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Get Paid to Be a Caregiver for a Family Member

By: Financial Hotline
Fall 2019 (Vol. 37, No. 3)

Q: My grandfather is disabled and no longer able to live alone. Are there any programs that will help with my expenses during this difficult time?

A: Yes, there are programs that may offer support and may even pay you to be a caregiver for a family member. Here are some options to consider:

First, check your family members health insurance. If your family member has home health care benefits, there may be provisions for directing those payments to you. If your loved one has long-term care insurance, it probably covers some costs for home health care and personal care services. However, not all policies extend that coverage to paying spouses or other family members living in the home.

If the family member you’re caring for is eligible for Medicaid, its Self-Directed Services program (also known as Cash and Counseling), can provide direct payments that could go to you. Some states have similar programs for low-income seniors, even if the person receiving care doesn’t quite qualify for Medicaid.

Adult children, former spouses and other family members qualify for payment and all but 12 states allow current spouses and legal guardians to be paid by Medicaid for caregiver services. Eligibility, coverage and rules differ according to the state. For example, some states will pay care providers only if they do not live in the same house as the care recipient.

Areas of assistance covered may include bathing, dressing, feeding, helping with light housekeeping and laundry, managing medications, moving from bed to wheelchair, preparing meals, shopping, supervising activities and transporting to appointments. The actual name of the program is different in each state, but it is referred to as a self-directed care program. You will need to contact your state Medicaid program to ask about its options or to start the sign-up process.

If your family member is a military veteran, the Veteran’s Administration (VA) provides several benefits to caregivers of some disabled or injured veterans.

A caregiver can be a parent, spouse, child, stepfamily member, extended family member, or an individual who lives with the veteran, but is not a family member who provides support to the veteran.

In general, caregivers must be providing in-home care for veterans. Some qualifications include:

  • Have a serious injury – including traumatic brain injury, psychological trauma or other mental disorder.

  • Need of personal care services because of an inability to perform one or more activities of daily living and/or need supervision or protection based on symptoms or residuals of neurological impairment or injury.

  • The veteran must be enrolled in the VA healthcare program, and the injury must be service connected.

Currently, only caregivers of veterans who suffered a qualifying injury on or after Sept. 11, 2001 or prior to May 7, 1975 are eligible for this program. However, caregivers of all other veterans will be eligible for the benefit by 2021.

Caregivers of eligible veterans can receive a monthly stipend, travel expenses, access to health care insurance, mental health services and counseling, respite care (not less than 30 days per year) Surviving spouses of qualifying veterans also may be eligible for this benefit. In addition, Veterans who receive a military pension and are substantially confined to their immediate premises because of permanent disability can apply for a monthly pension supplement. For more information on help for military caregivers, visit the VA Caregiver Support page or call its hotline at 855-260-3274.

Q: Do I need to pay self-employment tax on the income I received from an insurance company to care for my husband who is permanently disabled? I’m not a trained nurse or a therapist and I don’t provide such services to anyone other than my spouse.

A: No, you do not owe self-employment tax on amounts reported on the 1099-MISC you received if you are not engaged in a trade or business of providing care giving services, as appears to be the case in your situation. However, you must report the full amount of the payment as “Other Income” on your Form 1040.