Getting Paid as a Family Caregiver

Advice For Caregivers

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Getting paid as a family caregiver is possible in some self-directed care programs around the country.

If you have found yourself in a family caregiver role, you might feel like you are the only one who understands what it is like to juggle responsibilities for both your older loved one, your children, your job, and your spouse. It’s a lot, and it can quickly add up before you know how to get organized or delegate tasks to others.

While it might feel like you are alone, you are among good company. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, about 34.2 million Americans have provided some type of unpaid care to an older adult in the last year. These informal caregivers are bearing the weight of family caregiving in addition to their other professional and personal responsibilities. They are standing beside you.

But, most family members think their time on caregiving tasks is meant to be unpaid. Family caregivers are often the less expensive alternative to pricier senior living or home care options. However, there are ways to begin getting paid as a family caregiver. Here’s what you need to know.

The Financial Toll of Family Caregiving

The AARP recently reported the results of a June 2021 survey regarding family caregiving. Responders stated that the average annual out-of-pocket expenses family caregivers pay averages more than $7,000 per year. But the financial toll of caregiving doesn’t stop there. About 28% of family caregivers have stopped saving money while taking on caregiving duties and 23% have incurred more debt during their time as a caregiver.

The potential solution? Finding a way to be paid for the time you put in caregiving for a family member. However, it is not always as easy as it should be.

Begin Getting Paid as a Family Caregiver

Family caregiving can be rewarding, but it can also be financially taxing.

If your loved one wants to name you as their preferred caregiver, you might be able to be reimbursed for hours you work through a self-directed care program. For example, Medicaid offers self-directed options in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. In this model, the senior gets to manage their own preferences and care, including choosing their own caregiver. This means they can choose you to be their caregiver and you can get reimbursed for your services through a Medicaid waiver or program.

It’s important to research your specific guidelines and requirements at the Medicaid agency in the state your older loved one lives in. 

If your state offers a self-directed care option through Medicaid and your loved one is eligible, you will need to complete different educational opportunities in order to be vetted as a selected family caregiver. You’ll also need to complete documentation, learn about care plans, and go through other steps in order to be paid. You will also need to stay within approved hourly minimums and maximums that you bill for.

Other Options to Consider

Self-directed care through Medicaid services is just one avenue to explore as you seek to get paid for being a family caregiver. If your loved one is eligible, you can also look into the Veterans Affairs benefits. The VA does offer a self-directed care option in 42 states that allows the family to become paid caregivers if the Veteran needs the level of care found in a nursing home but they are able to stay at their own home. Unlike most Medicaid programs, the VA’s self-directed care model does allow for spouses to be a paid caregiver.

VA and Medicaid options aside, you and your loved one can also decide on a mutually-agreeable payment plan. If your loved one has it in their budget, they can pay you (or another family member) for hourly services at an agreed upon rate. This can feel awkward at first, but you might find that the employee-employer relationship suits both of you and helps you maintain good boundaries as you take on a caregiving role. 

Finally, you can also research your loved one’s long-term care insurance plan, if they have one. While most long-term care plans do cover home care payments, not all feature a self-directed care option where they will reimburse approved family members. It is worth it to call the insurance company and review your options.

In any case, it is wise to consult an accountant if you begin to accept payments for your family caregiving services. You’ll need to report these appropriately on your tax returns and your loved one might be able to claim some of the payments as a deduction on their returns as well.

Caregiving is hard work and unpaid family caregiving is even harder. However, there are ways you might be able to make some income to compensate you for giving your time and care to your loved one.