Does a “Lifetime” Benefit Period really mean the long-term care policy is “Unlimited”?

by | Oct 20, 2010

A "Lifetime" Benefit Period means that your long-term care insurance policy will continue to pay the benefits for as long as you receive qualified care, regardless of how long you may qualify for benefits.

There is no limit to how long it can pay benefits.

For example, if you chose a Lifetime/Unlimited Benefit Period, if you were to get Alzheimer’s and need care for 20 years (or even longer), the policy would continue to pay the benefits, no matter how long you received qualified care.

Over the past 15 years, about one-fourth of my clients have chosen a Lifetime/Unlimited Benefit Period.

Most of my clients who have chosen a Lifetime/Unlimited Benefit Period have done so because they’ve seen a close family member need care for many years.


One of my client's was a guardian for her aunt. Every month she wrote the checks to the assisted living facility where her aunt was living. Her aunt had Alzheimer's and needed care for over 13 years. My client insisted on making sure she purchased a long-term care policy that could NEVER run out of benefits.

Needless to say, a policy with a Lifetime (Unlimited) Benefit Period costs more than a similar policy with a limit.

Here’s a money-saving tip when choosing your Benefit Period:

Many policies have the option where married couples, domestic partners, and even siblings or family members that live in the same household, can share each other’s Benefit Period.  If one of you were to exhaust your policy’s benefits, you could then use the other’s benefits.

For example, each spouse could have a policy with a 5-year Benefit Period. If one spouse exhausted his/her benefits, he/she could then begin to use the other spouse's benefits.

Also, if one spouse passes away without using any of his/her benefits, the surviving spouse would inherit the unused benefits.

The added cost to share each other’s Benefit Period is very reasonable with most long-term care insurance companies.  It’s usually a very cost-effective way of helping to protect against the “worst case scenario”.