Can You Get Paid for Caring for your Elderly Parents?Can You Get Paid for Caring for your Elderly Parents

Love may not cost a thing, but caring for a loved one adds up. Out-of-pocket expenses, time away from work, and lost time to build up retirement savings can put caregivers in a financial bind. There are programs, though, that allow family members to get paid for their caregiving labor—if the senior being cared for qualifies, if the caregiver meets program requirements, and if you live in an area that has such a program with available spots.

Paid family caregiving options for Medicaid recipients

Almost every state participates in a Medicaid-funded program allowing qualified seniors to pay family members for care. The federal term for these programs is Self Directed Services. Programs in each state have their own names and guidelines. For example:

  • In California, Medi-Cal eligible seniors may qualify for IHSS (In-Home Supportive Services), which pays for in-home care by family members, neighbors, or professional caregivers.
  • In Oklahoma, the program is called CD-PASS (Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Services and Supports) and is open to Medicaid Advantage participants in selected counties only.
  • In Texas, Primary Home Care offers a consumer-directed option for home care services to Medicaid-eligible recipients.

There may be a wait list for these programs, and there may be other state programs available to you that don’t depend on Medicaid eligibility. To explore all the options, contact your state’s department of aging or department of health.

Paid family caregiving options for veterans

Veterans who qualify for the Aid and Attendance Pension receive funds to pay for home care or assistance in a care facility, and that does include family members giving care at home. As with self-directed Medicaid programs and with paying out of pocket (discussed below), the senior who receives the benefit pays the family caregiver a regular paycheck, and the caregiver is required to report this income for tax purposes.

Other paid family caregiving options

For non-veterans and seniors whose income and assets are too high to qualify for Medicaid, there are some do-it-yourself options. Seniors who hold a long-term care insurance policy may be able to use it to pay a relative for care. But, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, not all policies offer this benefit. You’ll need to speak with the agent who sold the policy in order to find out it family care is covered.

The other option, for seniors who have enough savings to do so, is to simply pay your adult child or other caregiving family member out of your own money. If you go this route, experts advise that you keep meticulous records, make sure everything is reported to the IRS, and pay within the market range for home care services in your area. (Overpaying a family member can make it look as if you are trying to “spend down” your assets quickly, and that could disqualify you from Medicaid eligibility in the future.)

Finally, check with your local agency on aging to see if there are other programs in your area. You can fill out the BenefitsCheckUp questionnaire from the National Council on Aging to find a complete list of all assistance programs you may qualify for.

Do you know an inspiring caregiver?

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Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.


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