New Legislation Proposed to Raise Personal Needs Allowance for Nursing Home Residents

Personal Needs Allowance, PNA, Happy black woman talking to her senior father while vising him at nursing home.

New legislation has been introduced that would allow a long-overdue increase to the Personal Needs Allowance for nursing home residents. The Personal Needs Allowance (PNA) is the maximum amount of income nursing home residents can retain to cover personal expenses such as clothing, haircuts, and communication devices like cell phones. Currently, the amount has stagnated at $30/month for an individual and $60/month for a couple; a rate that has remained the same since 1988. This PNA amount falls grossly short of today’s prices and living costs.

In response to this long-standing issue, Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) have introduced the Personal Needs Modernization Act (H.R. 7682) in the House. This bill proposes to double the federal PNA minimum to $60 for individuals and $120 for couples, and index the PNA to inflation, ensuring that it keeps pace with the cost of living.

In addition, Reps. Dan Kildee (D-MI) and Mike Carey (R-OH) have introduced the Dignity and Autonomy for Our Supplemental Security Income PNA Beneficiaries Act (H.R. 7697). This bipartisan bill would update Supplemental Security Income (SSI) PNAs to reflect cost-of-living adjustments and ensure that any increases are passed through to accompanying State Supplementary Payments (SSPs).

California Health Advocates strongly supports both bills, and we encourage you to voice your support by contacting your Congress people. These pieces of legislation would enhance the quality of life for nursing home residents by addressing the inadequacy of current PNA levels and ensuring that they have greater autonomy and dignity in managing their personal expenses.

Karen Joy Fletcher

Our blogger Karen Joy Fletcher is CHA’s Communications Director. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she is the online “public face” of the organization, provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare and other health care issues. She is responsible for digital content creation, management of CHA’s editorial calendar, and managing all aspects of CHA’s social media presence. She loves being a “communicator” and enjoys networking and collaborating with the passionate people and agencies in the health advocacy field. See her current articles.