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  • Pam

Can I Get Paid to Care for My Elder Parent?

A frequent question that comes up and one we are familiar with is “Can I get paid to care for my aging parent or spouse?” The honest answer is yes but it is quite a bit more complicated than that. Depending on which state you live in will depend on how many options you have. We will do our best to help you sort this out and give you some resources to get your state specific questions answered.

It's no secret that caregiving for a loved one can be challenging both emotionally and physically. In fact, the National Alliance for Caregiving reports that caregiving costs the United States economy $522 billion each year. And while many people assume that family members provide this unpaid care for free, there are in fact several ways to get paid for your caregiving efforts. So, if you're currently providing or contemplating providing care for a relative, read on to learn more about your options.

We will start by listing the different ways you can possibly get paid to care for a loved one.

Medicaid Programs:

· According to an AARP article, “Twelve states (Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin) allow these state-funded programs to pay any relatives, including spouses, parents of minor children, and other legally responsible relatives.”

· For these programs it is best to contact your County Aging and Disability Resource Center or Senior Resource Center. You an also contact your states Medicaid office

· Some states have Community Options Programs, IRIS, Family Care, and more. It can get a bit overwhelming, so our advice is to reach out to your county senior services government agency. That is the first place to start for all your questions regarding what type of assistance you can get in caring for your aging parent or spouse. In the state of Wisconsin, they are called Aging and Disability Resource Center or ADRC. Some of these programs are self-driven where you manage a pool of money or they also can be managed by the Managed Care Medicaid model, again depending on each state’s program options.

· Each state has its own requirements for “meeting criteria” to receive these programs. The state specific criteria could include income, assets such as your house, (some states count your house as an asset and some do not), cash on hand in bank accounts, monthly income, retirement funds, some trusts, etc. Often there is a “limit” as little as $2000.00 in assets for some states to qualify for these programs. The individual can usually have one car that would be considered an “allowable” asset and not count against you.

· The barrier to these types of programs is that a person may be “over assets” and not qualify. The aging resource center staff can help you “spend down” some of the assets to help you qualify. An Elder Law or Estate Planning Attorney would be a good resource as well. There are legal ways you can reduce the assets such as an Irrevocable Funeral Trust where you pre-pay for funeral expenses and once initiated and paperwork is signed there is no way to reclaim those funds. It is always recommended that you contact your financial planner or your attorney to get the best advice for your situation.

· It has been our experience that the pay can be around $9.00- $20.00 but more around the $9.00-$15.00 depending on where you live.

Family Medical Leave Act:

This is another potential source of assistance in caring for an aging parent or spouse that some states are improving by offering paid compensation. The 12 weeks do not have to be taken all at once but only 12 weeks per year. Your employer must have your job or equal job and pay available on your return. If possible, the law requires that you notify your work 30 days in advance of a planned medical leave request. Having an unpaid leave does not solve the “paid” part of this caregiving blog post. With some states stepping forward and offering pain leave we hope this is a good step in the right direction in making it easier for our caregivers.

In 1993 The FMLA or Federal Medical Leave Act was passed. This allows a 12-week unpaid leave to care for a new baby, foster child, your own illness or an ill parent or spouse. According to the AARP article listed in our resource section, some states have now allowed care for grandparents. The article goes on to explain that there are several states that are providing paid leave above and beyond what the Federal government mandates for caregiving. The article was written in November 2021. See the entire article in the resource listing below. These states include:

  • California, benefits available • Colorado, benefits begin Jan. 1, 2024 • Connecticut, benefits begin Jan. 1, 2022 • District of Columbia, benefits available • Massachusetts, benefits available • New Jersey, benefits available • New York, benefits available • Oregon, benefits begin Sept. 1, 2023 • Rhode Island, benefits available • Washington, benefits available

Veteran’s Affairs Benefits or VA:

Depending on the amount of “service connection” you have you are entitled to benefits form the VA. Even if you do not qualify for certain benefits under the VA, you may still qualify for some personal cares and assistance in the home. Reach out to the VA and they will help you determine what services you are eligible for.

The VA Home Supportive Care Division can often help with:

· Home or VA Hospital Hospice Services

· At home personal cares, bath aides, housekeepers, meal prep.

· Assist with paying for Adult Daycare

· Telehealth

· May offer a stipend of a certain dollar amount to cover your caring however this may be on a case by case basis and will need to discuss with the VA.

· Remote disease monitoring from your home

· Respite Care with a contracted facility

· Home Skilled Care such as an R.N. or a Therapist

· Call VA’s Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274

Long Term Care Insurance:

Some long-term care insurance policies cover in home care. In most cases the insurance company will pay the policy holder and then an arrangement can be made for a family member to provide care. We suggest that you put a family caregiving contract together to outline exactly what you will be doing to get paid. More information below as another option to get paid. Each policy is different so please review the policy or speak to the insurance agent or agency that initiated the policy.

Options if You Don’t Qualify for State Programs:

Family Personal Contract Agreement:

If a person is over assets and does not qualify for state Medicaid services, they can pay you privately to care for them. You must handle this properly or the person you are caring for could be accused of “dumping” assets to try and qualify for state services. What you charge needs to be in line with the going rates for that type of care. You really need to discuss this with an elder law or Estate planning attorney to consider this option.

This would be a legal and formal contract that should be executed by your attorney between you and your family member, parent, etc. This document should spell out exactly what services you will be providing such as bathing, dressing, taking to doctor’s appointments, purchasing, and preparing meals, light housekeeping, their personal laundry, etc. List how many hours per day and how many hours per week you will be providing this service. Lastly make sure it is recorded in this document how much per hour you will be making. Good records need to be kept on all services providing dates, times, type of care provided, basically a time card of everything you are doing while “on the clock”.

This is a very complex question and a lot rides on what state you live in. Our advice is to check with your county aging department and determine what resources you may qualify for. They are very knowledgeable regarding resources in your area. The other option would be to hire a Health or Patient Advocate that can come along side you and assist in putting a plan in place to meet your needs and assist in identifying resources.

We hope this information proves helpful as you navigate the challenging but rewarding process of caring for a loved one.

You can learn more about our Your Nurse Advocate Consulting by visiting our website. You can CLICK HERE for our free 22-page guide on identifying needs and resources for your aging parent or spouse.

Thanks for stopping by and spending some time with us. We look forward to seeing you back here soon!

Pam and Linda

Resources: This resource has a tool that you can use to help determine what type of program may work for you.

Hiring a Patient or Health Advocate can walk you through the steps and help you put a complete plan together to meet all the healthcare needs. Information on VA supportive home care services.

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