Social Security statements now are advising recipients that Medicare does not cover long-term care expenses. The Social Security Administration recently changed the wording of its annual earnings statements at the direction of Congress to make it clear that individuals need to plan for the possibility they might eventually need long-term care. The new wording follows:

Social Security pays retirement, disability, family and survivors benefits. Medicare, a separate program run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, helps pay for inpatient hospital care, nursing care, doctors’ fees, drugs and other medical services and supplies to people age 65 and older, as well as to people who have been receiving Social Security disability benefits for two years or more. Medicare does not pay for long-term care, so you may want to consider options for private insurance.

Unfortunately, long-term care insurance is costly. Fidelity Investments recently issued a study estimating that a 65-year old couple in 2008 will need $85,000 to insure against long-term care expenses. Failure to adequately plan for long-term care needs often results in additional burdens on the couples’ adult children or other family members or loved ones, who can jeopardize their own finances by caring for an ailing parent or family member while finding they must cut their work hours.

For an article from the San Francisco Chronicle on Fidelity’s study, click here.