There are close to 34 million Americans providing care for their parents, and many are not compensated for their time. The value that caregivers provide for “free” is estimated to reach $375 billion annually. That’s double the amount of what is actually spent on homecare services.
Being a caregiver is rewarding, but it comes at a cost. The average caregiver spends 20 hours a week caring for their loved ones and spends an average of $5,500 each year out-of-pocket. At Medicare Plan Finder, we know how hard you work and how much you deserve financial support, and we want to help you understand how to get paid to be a caregiver for parents.
Medicaid Caregiver Pay
Medicaid varies per state, but all states (and the District of Columbia) offer Medicaid waivers that allow qualified individuals to manage their own care. This means your parent can hire and fire their own caregivers. Certain states will permit a family member to be hired to provide the care.
The eligibility, benefits, coverage, and rules will vary depending on which state you live in. Some may pay for family caregivers but exclude spouses or in-laws. Others may only provide compensation if you do not live in the same house as the person in your care. When you are researching programs in your state, be conscious of program names. Each state will have a different name (Self-Directed Care, In-Home Supportive Services, etc.).
To start the process, your parent(s) must qualify for Medicaid and meet state caregiver qualifications. Contact your state Medicaid office to start the application and learn about eligibility. Your parent(s) will be assessed for risks, needs, strengths, and capacities that meet the requirements by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). You and your parent(s) will write a service plan that details the type of daily assistance that will be provided. This can include bathing, dressing, meal preparation, feeding, laundry, driving, and other daily tasks. When this plan is set, you will be approved or denied for the state’s Medicaid compensation program.
Veterans Caregiver Pay
If your parent is a veteran, they may qualify for the Veteran Directed Home & Community Based Care program. This program is available in 37 states and the District of Columbia. It provides several medical benefits to people who need a high level of nursing facility care, but want to live at home with a caregiver. The average monthly allowance is $2,500. The veteran will choose the caregiver. This can be a family member, including spouses, siblings, or children/grandchildren.
Another program that can help provide financial compensation is Aid and Attendance (A&A). This program provides benefits to veterans who qualify for a VA pension and have served at least 90 days in active duty and one day during a wartime period. The program is intended to supplement the pension and help cover the cost of a caregiver. The caregiver can be any family member.
To qualify for A&A, at least one of the following must apply:
- Confined to bed due to a disability
- Be in a nursing home due to physical or mental limitations
- Have limited eyesight (Corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes)
- Require the aid of another person to assist with daily living activities (bathing, dressing, feeding, etc.)
Long-Term Care Insurance and Caregivers
Long-term care insurance is a policy that helps cover the cost of long-term care. These costs can include assisted living, nursing homes, or in-home care (including caregivers). Plan benefits will vary, but if home care coverage is included in the plan, homecare caregivers may be covered as well. However, it is important to note that all plans are different, and some plans may exclude these benefits. Additionally, some plans may have restrictions on who qualifies to be a paid caregiver. Some plans may exclude spouses or in-laws, and others may exclude family members altogether.
Other Paid Family Caregiver Options
If your parent does not qualify for any of the above programs, don’t worry! There are other ways to get some type of compensation. The following are round-about ways that explain how to get paid to be a caregiver for parents:
Tax Deductions: It may not be the same as a monthly paycheck, but tax deductions can help you save money each year for certain expenses you incur. You may be able to write off certain expenses like dental costs, medical costs, home modifications, and transportation costs.
Payment From a Family Member: Asking for payment from your parents or another family member may be awkward or uncomfortable. Put all of these feelings aside and discuss needs, wages, schedule, etc. Create a contract that includes the wage and services provided.
Area Agencies on Aging: Each state has a local Area Agency on Aging. You can find your closest office by searching your city in their directory tool. The staff at each location can help you find additional programs that you or your loved one qualify.
Paid Leave: If your parent’s needs are short-term, you may be eligible for a paid leave through your employer. This is not guaranteed, but there is no harm in talking to your HR representative to see what type of paid leave policies are offered by your company. Something as small as a few weeks of pay can still provide a financial cushion and allow you to go back to work in the future.
Remote Work: Paid leave can only help for a short time, and may not be the best solution for you and your family. Talk to your employer and see if telecommuting is an option. Again, each company will vary, but there is no harm in asking. Working full-time and acting as a caregiver can be difficult, so consider your workload when making these decisions and having these conversations.
Caregiver Support and Power of Attorney
There’s no doubting the weight that caring for a loved one can put on your shoulders. If you’re a caregiver, it’s crucial you feel supported so you can continue to help your loved one on a daily basis. Medicare Plan Finder’s Caregiver Support page provides caregiver information specific to your loved one’s needs. Learn about how you can receive support for yourself while caring for your loved one, stress relief tips, support groups you can join, and Power of Attorney (POA) information.
Being a caregiver does not automatically grant you the ability to make certain medical, legal, or financial decisions on behalf of your parent. To do so, you will need to become their Power of Attorney. If your parent is mentally competent, they can sign their rights over to you. If they are not, you will need to go before a judge and have their rights granted to you.
Medicare Coverage and Caregivers
As a caregiver, one of your biggest concerns, among understanding how to get paid to be a caregiver for parents, may be making sure your loved one has the best possible health plan for their unique needs and budget. At Medicare Plan Finder, we want to help make that happen! We specialize in educating seniors on Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplements, and Part D plans. Our licensed agents are contracted with all of the major carriers so you know your parent is being shown the best plans at the best price. Give us a call at 833-438-3676 or click here to get in contact with an agent.