Providing care to an aging parent or family member can be a rewarding, albeit challenging, job. Unfortunately, family caregivers often shoulder enormous financial burdens. A recent report estimated that informal family caregivers provided 34 billion hours of unpaid care (a value of $470 billion) to loved ones in 2017 alone.
It’s no wonder many people find themselves wondering how to get paid by the state for taking care of someone in their family. Here’s everything you need to know about financial plans, programs, and getting paid to be a family caregiver for your loved ones.
How to Become a Paid In Home Caregiver for a Family Member
It is possible to become a paid caregiver for a family member, although it's not always an easy or straightforward process. There’s no one way to go about it, but there are hundreds of programs available depending on a lot of factors like relationship to the patient, income, insurance, and more.
Every state has their own rules and eligibility requirements, so take a little time to look into state entitlement programs and federal assistance to see if you and your loved one qualify.
Does Medicare Pay for Family Members to be a Caregiver?
Medicare does not pay for long-term caregivers, related or not. However there are other government programs, such as Medicaid and veterans’ programs, that do pay family members for caregiving, provided you meet their eligibility requirements. Many of these programs require extensive record-keeping and organization.
A secure document storage service such as Pillar can make a big difference in keeping important records secure and accessible. During and after the application process.
Which States Pay Family Caregivers?
Every state offers programs through Medicaid that can pay family caregivers, although the specifics vary from state to state. A handy state by state guide can help you figure out how to get paid to take care of a family member with disability or an elderly family member in your area.
6 Steps to Finding Financial Assistance for Family Caregivers
1. Determine Medicaid Eligibility
Every state offers self-directed Medicaid services which allow certain individuals to choose their own home care providers. The specific program names, benefits and eligibility requirements vary from state to state. Some do allow for payment to family members, although some states won’t authorize payment for spouses, legal guardians or housemates. Contact your state’s Medicaid office to determine eligibility and for further information.
2. Apply for an HCBS Program
Medicaid beneficiaries who receive home care may be eligible for a tax-free stipend through a Home and Community-Based Services program. HCBS programs also provide support, care oversight and assistance to caregivers.
3. Review Veteran Aid Programs
Currently, there are four plans for veterans that may help pay for family caregivers:
- Veteran Directed Care
- Aid and Attendance (A&A) Benefits
- Housebound Benefits
- Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers
Veteran Directed Care
The Veteran Directed Care program provides qualified military vets with a monthly allowance to spend on goods and services they choose to keep them out of a nursing home. Care provided by a family member is typically covered.
Aid and Attendance (A&A) Benefits
Veterans, or their widows, who meet eligibility requirements may be entitled to an A&A supplement to cover caregiving costs.
Veterans who receive a military pension, are permanently disabled, and unable to leave their home without difficulty, may be eligible for a supplemental benefit. The application is the same as for A&A benefits, but you can’t receive both of these benefits concurrently.
Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers
The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers provides a monthly stipend for family caregivers of veterans who require care related to injuries sustained in the line of duty since September 11, 2001. This program also provides access to health insurance, caregiver training, travel expenses and covers some respite care costs for families.
4. Look to Long Term Care Insurance
Most long term care insurance policies cover some of the costs of home care services. Some policies allow for that care to be provided by a spouse or another family member. Request a written statement of benefits, and talk to your insurance agent, to determine if this is an option in your case.
5. Talk to Human Resources
Some companies are starting to recognize the need for family caregivers, and even go so far as to provide paid family leave. Other state or federal programs may protect workers’ positions as they take time off to care for family members who need assistance due to their medical condition. Talk to your company’s human resources department for more information.
6. Talk to Your Family About Private Pay
It’s reasonable for your family member to compensate you for your time and caregiving services. If they hired a professional caregiver through an agency they could expect to pay at least $20-30 per hour, depending on location. Furthermore, family caregivers often have to reduce working hours, make career sacrifices and tap into savings or take on additional debt in order to provide unpaid caregiving hours. If the loved one being cared for has the financial resources to do so, paying a family member for quality care can be a good way to meet the needs of both parties.
However, there are potential drawbacks to this arrangement, including awkward feelings on the part of the senior, the caregiver, or the rest of the family. To avoid uncomfortable feelings, and potentially messy situations down the line, be sure to follow a few important guidelines:
It’s a good idea to involve others in the decision and arrangements for both of your protection. Involve the power of attorney, an elder care lawyer, or at least all of the siblings, to protect the senior from being taken advantage of – and to protect you from unfounded accusations of financial elder abuse.
Discuss Everything Upfront
Talk upfront directly about the needs of both parties. Address specifically which services will and won’t be covered. Discuss schedules, wages, time off arrangements, potential on-the-job injuries, and how sick days will be handled.
Sign a Contract
Draw up a caregiver contract, sometimes called a personal care agreement, in which terms are specified. Consult an elder law attorney to review it for compliance with tax laws and inheritance interests.
Keep Detailed Records
Keep excellent records documenting services provided, dates of work and amounts paid. These records will become essential if your loved one must later apply for Medicaid. Without them, Medicaid may determine that any money exchanged was a gift, which can affect eligibility for financial assistance.
Pay Your Taxes
Report your income and pay your taxes. Again, this is extremely important for ensuring that any future Medicaid eligibility is not impacted.
A Rewarding Challenge Made Easier with Organization
By providing care directly for a family member, you can feel good about providing the best care for them in their own home. However, being a family caregiver is known to put financial strain on the caregiver. In many cases getting paid for taking care of elderly parent is possible through government programs, employer benefits, insurance policies, or direct payment from your loved one.
All of these avenues will require detailed record keeping, so keeping your documents organized and accessible is extremely important. Pillar is an online document storage and retrieval system that takes the headache out of record keeping and ensures these vital records are secure and ready when you need them. Start your 14-day free trial and see how easy it is to organize the most important documents in your life.