After my father died, my sister and I were responsible for deciding what to do with his belongings and closing out his financial affairs. In addition to the zillions of caregiving hours we racked up before Dad’s death, little did we know that managing the details after his death would be no less time consuming. The process of closing the book on Dad’s life took over three years.
How to Get Paid for Family Caregiving: Part One describes the many tasks we caregivers perform over the years. One look at that list and, like me, you may be compelled to ask the obvious question – should we family caregivers get paid for taking care of our aging parents? Our parents come to depend on us in every way, shape, and form. Plus, we tend to completely rearrange our lives and livelihoods to help sustain their quality of life.
Many people believe that we should care for each other out of love, respect, and duty; but do we family caregivers have to go broke in the process? I’m not suggesting hard-fast rules as to how to get paid for caregiving. I’m simply tossing it out there for your consideration.
In the meantime, the following strategies may help to ease your financial load when it comes to family caregiving:
- Working caregivers face additional stress when attempting to juggle work and family responsibilities. Find out your employer offers employees paid sick leave benefits to care for loved ones.
- Don’t quit your job just yet. Companies that do not offer paid family leave may offer flexible work schedules or allow you to work from home. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible workers are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year. Go over the options with your supervisor and HR before you make any big decisions.
- Hospitals, social service organizations, and adult education centers offer training programs for caregivers who, upon completion of the program, may qualify to be paid for their services. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging and ask about caregiver-training options.
- Certain types of long-term care insurance will pay for in-home assistance, including family caregivers. Much is dependent on the specific policy’s rules. Ask your insurance agent about policies that will compensate family members to provide care after they have completed a caregiving-training program.
- Cash and Counseling Programs allow participants to pay family members (adult children and in some states, spouses) for their services including non-Medicaid programs and veterans’ programs. Most Cash and Counseling programs are based on Medicaid waivers. Be aware that there are waiting lists for these programs. States have also been cutting back because of budgetary pressures.
- Veterans’ pensions help pay for long-term care. Spouses or family members of veterans may get tax-free money for caring for veterans or surviving spouses. The program is called Aid and Attendance or Housebound Pension.
- A life insurance conversion of an existing policy can allow family members to receive payment as caregivers. Discuss possibilities with the insurance agent.
- If you are caring for parents, and provide for more than half of their basic living expenses, you may be able to claim them as a dependent on your taxes. You may also be able to deduct their medical expenses, even if you can’t claim them as dependents. For more information on the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program, visit the IRS website.
- Disease or condition-specific associations may provide stipends or grants to support caregivers. Each organization has their own requirements to qualify.