Can You Get Paid to Take Care of a Family Member?

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Quality time. Peace of mind. A feeling of purpose. Caring for an elderly family member has many benefits. In fact, 83 percent of caregivers rate the experience as a positive one. An opportunity for additional income, however, is not usually at the forefront of a loved one’s mind. But with 78 percent of family caregivers regularly spending their own money on caregiving-related costs, it’s good to know there are resources out there. Here are some ways you can get paid to care for a parent or other family member:

Medicaid

The Medicaid programs in nearly all states enable eligible recipients to hire and compensate their own home care aides. This can include a family member, but usually not a spouse. The amount you can receive depends on your state and on your individual needs. In California, for example, the average monthly wage is roughly $2,200. For specifics, contact your state’s Medicaid agency or association on aging.

Veterans benefits

Family caregivers of veterans may be eligible for benefits provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Adult Day Health Care Centers, Home Hospice Care, and Skilled Home Care are just some of the benefits your loved one may qualify for. The VA also offers support resources especially for caregivers; take advantage of them.

Long-term care insurance

Some long-term care insurance policies offer a stipend for family caregivers. Inquire with your loved one’s insurance agent, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

Personal care agreement

If your loved one or another family member has the financial resources to pay for assistance, consider drawing up a contract to formalize your role as caregiver. Usually called a personal care agreement, this legally binding document outlines the tasks that will be performed and what compensation the caregiver will receive. If one sibling is doing most of the day-to-day caregiving and the others are unable to provide direct care but instead can contribute financially, this can also be a way to clarify those contributions and avoid disputes down the road.

You can find sample personal care agreements online (for example, from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and PayingforSeniorCare.com, but it’s smart to consult an elder law attorney, who can not only help you draft an agreement (or at least review it) but also advise you on how personal care payments can affect your parent’s future eligibility for Medicaid. It’s also a good idea to sign the agreement in the presence of a notary. Read more about personal care agreements from the Family Caregiver Alliance.

Tax credits

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law in December 2017 came with an (albeit minor) perk for caregivers: a new $500 tax credit for each non-child dependent, starting with your 2018 tax return. In 2018, you can also allocate up to $2,650 to fund a health care flexible spending account or up to $5,000 a year for a dependent care flexible spending account. FSA contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, so they can lower your final tax bill.

Other benefits programs

If caring for your relative could result in financial hardship (losing a salary, for example), you could be eligible for additional federal, state, and/or private benefits. The Benefits Checkup service, provided by the National Council on Aging, is a great place to start.

Is additional help on the horizon?

Caregivers’ need for financial assistance is not going unnoticed. In 2017, Hawaii became the first U.S. state to provide this benefit through the Kupuna Caregivers Act, which can provide up to $70 per day to cover things such as health care and transportation. Other states may view Hawaii’s provision as a litmus test of sorts, as they consider similar moves.

The bipartisan RAISE (Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage) Family Caregivers Act, signed into law in January 2018, will require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to outline a strategy to help caregivers through federal programs, workplace policy changes, and more.  

Even if additional resources come to pass, the benefits received won’t amount to the average full-time salary. But caregivers know that every additional bit of financial support can help you adjust to this life-altering situation.  

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