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Caring for a loved one is a hugely rewarding task, and most of us wouldn’t give it a second thought for someone we care about. However, there is a darker side to caring that a lot of people don’t think about before taking on the challenge. As carers, we must make some significant sacrifices which may include cutting down your hours at work or even giving up your job entirely. Naturally, this will impact your financial situation, putting a huge strain on you and your wellbeing.
In some cases, it may not be possible to give up your work, and so there is the stress associated with trying to provide care whilst also being the breadwinner.
According to research, more than 22% of adults provide some sort of care to a loved one but what is most shocking is that as many as 43 million Americans provide unpaid care for their family members. There are some carers, up to 15% in fact, that supply care for two adults at the same time. Further studies show that most carers fall between the ages of 45 and 64, which is a prime age for advancements in your career which may be impacted through the act of caring.
Fortunately, there are several ways that you may be able to claim an allowance as a carer. In this guide, we will detail some of your options.
Medicaid is a state and federal program that provides help with the cost of healthcare for millions of Americans, including those on a low income. In terms of providing care, Medicaid runs a program called the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) which allows participants to hire the help of a caregiver, whether that be a professional or a family member.
You will first need to apply for Medicaid through a home-based program which is available to seniors on a low income. However, you should keep in mind that different states have different eligibility requirements, so you will need to check your local requirements here. It is also important to keep in mind that some states also place restrictions on which family members are allowed to be paid as your carer.
Once you have applied, Medicaid will assess your needs and determine a budget based on the level of care you require. The person that you designate as your carer will also need to undergo some assessments, including blood tests to ensure that they are physically healthy enough to provide care to you as well as providing documentation detailing their legal right to work in the USA. Depending on the results of the assessment, you will be given a certain number of hours of care per week. Your carer will then receive an hourly rate paycheck based on this.
If you are a veteran and require a caregiver, then that person may be entitled to claim a wage for their time. There are many veteran benefits available for different reasons. Let’s take a look at some of those surrounding day-to-day care.
Veteran Directed Care Program
The Veteran Directed Care Program aims to provide assistance to veterans who have sustained a catastrophic service-related injury after 9/11. The program allows the veteran to choose their caregiver which can be a family member.
The veteran must develop a care program that details the level of care required and a suitable budget to cover this. It may be that the care plan needs to be modified before being approved. As well as receiving caregiver payments, you may also be eligible to receive other assistance that may go towards obtaining supplies.
This program is available in 42 states as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The care can be provided either in the home of the veteran, their caregiver or in an independent living facility that doesn’t provide the correct support. For more information, you can visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website.
Aid and Attendance (A&A) Benefit
This is a program that is designed to supplement a military income to help the veteran cover the cost of hiring a caregiver. This can be someone from their family. If you are the surviving spouse of a veteran, then you may also be eligible to apply for this benefit.
To receive this benefit, the veteran must officially hire their loved one as a carer who must then invoice the veteran for their services. The pension (which the veteran must already be in receipt of) will then be supplemented.
There are some additional criteria that you must meet in order to qualify for this benefit. One of the following statements must be true:
- You require the help of another person for daily activities such as dressing, bathing, feeding, etc
- You must stay in bed for long periods or permanently because of an illness
- You are currently a patient in a nursing home as a result of the loss of mental or physical ability.
- You have limited eyesight (less than 5/200) in both eyes or have concentric contraction of your visual field less than five degrees.
If you are not eligible for the above benefits then you may qualify for the VA Housebound Benefits. This is similar to Aid and Attendance and offers an additional grant alongside your regular veteran’s pension. What’s great about this benefit is that you have the option to select an adult child or one of your other relatives to become your paid carer. However, in this case, your spouse will not be able to collect pay.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Many people opt to purchase a long-term care insurance policy which you can claim down the line. This will then help to pay towards the cost of home care should there come a time that you need it. This means that a loved one has the opportunity to be paid as your caregiver.
There are two main ways of accessing payments from a long-term care insurance policy. The first occurs in the case that your policy requires you to have care from a licensed home care agency. But this doesn’t mean that your loved one cannot act as your main carer. In this situation, you would contact your chosen home care agency who would then be paid by your insurer. However, this payment would then be passed on to your loved one from the agency. Your agency will benefit from this as they will make a profit on it without having to spend any man-hours, so it’s an agreement that suits everyone.
There may also be policies that allow you to choose a caregiver outside of a licensed agency. In this case, we would recommend entering into a caregiver contract that forms an agreement between you and your caregiver as to what level of care is needed and what is provided. You can download a free template for this online, and it should also include termination clauses, the length of time you require care each day, what services will be provided, and so forth. It would also include any payment agreements which you would give to your carer through your insurance payout.