When a loved one gets old or sick, you want to do whatever it takes to care for them. But even with the best intentions, serving as a family caregiver is extraordinarily hard work.
The emotional and financial burdens involved in caring for a family are well documented: According to the most recent data fromAARP, about 48 million people in the US provide unpaid care to family members. On average, unpaid family caregivers not only lose wages, but spend an average of 26% of their household income on care expenses – from home modifications to therapists, medical equipment and in-home care.
That financial stress, plus the mentally and emotionally draining task of caring for a loved one, was worth it.heavy burden for caregivers. In the same AARP survey, 26% of respondents reported that their health and well-being were deteriorating as a result of their caregiving responsibilities.
Given the high cost – literally, not to mention physical and emotional – of being a caregiver, many wonder: Can a family member be paid to be a caregiver? Fortunately, there are several programs that allow you to get paid as a family caregiver and even offer resources to help you with caregiving tasks.
State programs for family caregivers
If your loved one is a Medicaid beneficiary, they may be able to hire you as a paid caregiver. Most states offerMedicaid waives self-directed long-term service and support (LTSS) programs, which allows Medicaid participants to retain decision-making authority over their own care and the use of their Medicaid funds.
According to the most recently available data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, federal and state spending on these programs added up tomore than $343 billionin 2020. There are several self-driving options that states are offering, includingSelf-directed personal assistance serviceswhere participants choose and train their own provider and decide how much to pay and be dispensed for those who prefer home and community care, known as “Home and Community Services” (HCBS). Some states also offer structured family care programs through aPartnership with the organization Caregiver Homes.Family caregivers can be paid through this program if their dependents are Medicaid beneficiaries.
Benefits, coverage, eligibility and rules differ from state to state depending on theAARP. Some programs pay for family caregivers but exclude spouses and legal guardians. Others only pay caregivers if they don't live in the same household as the person in need of care.
Medicaid, which serves low-income Americans, seniors, people with disabilities and a few other select groups, has specific income requirements. First, determine the eligibility requirements to find out if your loved one qualifies for Medicaid. If so,Contact your state Medicaid officefor more information about self-managed services and whether you can become a paid family caregiver.
Administration for Aging and Department of Aging Services
Other government programs can offset some of your care costs. Each state has several local agencies that are part of theManagement in Aging (AAA), many of which provide features such as:
- respite care(although you canhire a caregiverto care for your loved one while you take some much-needed time for yourself).
- meal plans.
- Mobility Assistance Programs.
- Training in nursing and other complementary services.
VisitEldercare.govto find contact information for your local AAA agency.
In addition, it may be worth contacting your state's Department of Wellness or Department of Health and Human Services to find out what financial or medical assistance programs or support programs are available to help cover some of the costs and family care responsibilities.
Veteran Caregiver Programs
If your dependent is a veteran, they may qualify forVeteran Directed Care-Programm.
This program is designed for veterans who need daily help and caregivers who need additional help. Veterans or their family caregivers are given a budget to manage their care and help them age in their own home or community. With the budget, a veteran can hire a family member or other person to provide in-home care and purchase necessary items or services to help him manage his own care.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs also provides so-calledHelp & Support, which increases a veteran's monthly allowance if he is bedridden and needs treatment, is a patient in a nursing home, is visually impaired, or needs a regular caregiver to assist with his daily activities, who is a caregiver or a another can be Individual.
The agency also provides benefits for veterans at home. To claim these benefits,Contact the pension administration office in your stateand submit the A&A application form (VA-Form 21-2680). (A physician must complete the Examination Information section of the form.) You may also include evidence of your loved one's physical or mental impairments and information about their ability to care for themselves during the day.
Additional options and resources for family caregivers
If you do not qualify for government or veterans programs, other resources are available to help caregivers. Long-term care insurance is often the first and best option, and some of these policies can even cover the care of a family member. OAmerican Long Term Care Insurance Associationprovides several helpful guides and informational resources to help consumers learn more. You can also request a quote from association members, so use that to research the best price and all the benefits.Contributions to nursing insurance can also be deducted, depending on your dependent's adjusted gross income.
personal care arrangementsare another way to get paid to care for a loved one. Under these arrangements, an elderly relative would enter into a caregiving arrangement with a family member. While this arrangement may seem odd or uncomfortable, it can reduce some of the financial costs associated with care. Just be sure to consult a prior law attorney for advice on how to word the contract to protect both parties and establish any tax obligations.
Tax deductions can also help offset care costs. make sure youKeep a record of all your care expensesthroughout the year, as you can use this information to obtain theDependent care credit, which can account for up to 50% of your employment-related expenses.
To qualify for care-related deductions, you must pay more than 50% of the cost of supporting your loved one, your loved onemust be dependent, spouse or eligible relative (i.e., an elderly parent) and youmust be below a certain gross income.
And if you goBalancing care and full-time work, your employer mayprovide a senior care program or service. Companies such as Bank of America, Deloitte, Microsoft and NBC Universal are some examples of employers that provide care services for the elderly. During the pandemic, law firms likeMcDermott Will & Emery e Greensfelder, Hemker & Galerecognized the need for elderly care services during the pandemic and now provides care services and training for employees caring for elderly loved ones.
How much do family members receive for care?
As you've read, there are many resources available that can help put money in caregivers' pockets. However, it is difficult to determine an average amount to expect as a family caregiver, as programs vary greatly from state to state and from case to case. Many of these offerings, such as Services such as Medicaid's self-directed services, allow a specific amount of a person's Medicare funds to be allocated to a family caregiver. The amount a person receives depends on the state they live in, the plan they have, and the amount of care needed.
Programs like the Veteran Directed Care Program also vary by state. For example, in California, qualified veteran family caregivers can earn from $8 to $21 per hour through The Veteran Directed Care (VDC), up to $3,261 per month through A&A Pension, and up to $1,882 per month through the Housebound Pension Benefit. up to $2,750 per month through the Comprehensive Caregiver Assistance (PCAFC) program.
Features like Administration on Aging help offset the cost of caregivers through options like respite care, mobility assistance programs, and even meal planning. While not monetary compensation, this type of support can be invaluable in preventing burnout among caregivers.
Tax credits for family caregivers also vary by state and situation. At the state level, New York residents can claim up to $1,760 in tax credits through Child and Dependent Tax Credit (CDCTC). Statewide, 50% of care-related costs are tax-deductible through the Dependent Care Credit, which is capped at $1,100.
Is there more help for caregivers in sight?
The need for financial support from caregivers does not go unnoticed. Hawaii was the first US state to provide this benefit through theKupuna Caregiver Lawwho spend up to $70 a day to cover expenses such as medical care andTransport.
the bipartisanELEVATE (Recognise, Assist, Include, Support and Engage) Family Caregivers ActAsks the US Department of Health and Human Services to outline a strategy to help caregivers through federal programs, workplace policy changes, and more.
Ab May 2021,eleven US statesOffer paid family leave for caregivers, Offer fully or partially paid leave for caregivers. While it is currently up to the states to decide whether or not to protect these benefits by law, many policymakers continue to advocate mandating paid family leave at the federal level.
Even if additional funds are added, the benefits received do not match the average full-time salary. But caregivers know that any additional financial support can help them adjust to this life-changing situation.