Financial Assistance for Caregivers
Changing physical, emotional, or mental circumstances happen in every family. You may find a loved one in need of additional help with housecleaning, meals, laundry, and personal care. Family caregivers can typically ease the burden for a loved one, enabling them to stay in their current home. While providing care minimizes a loved one’s challenges, caregivers often face their own struggles. Physical and emotional stressors, juggling work and caregiving responsibilities, and limited time for themselves and others are common issues. Additionally, financial hurdles and hardships affect many caregivers too.
Financial Assistance Options
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to caregiver financial assistance. Researching the various programs available might seem daunting. Local Area Agencies on Aging or www.benefitscheckup.org are helpful starting points. Typically, financial assistance programs vary by state and may have restrictions. However, there are several programs that may be available, including: state, veterans, long-term care insurance, and caregiver contracts.
- State Programs- Assistance programs vary by state and might be called any of the following program names: consumer-directed, participant-directed, or cash and counseling. These plans help pay for a caregiver of choice. It’s important to note there are income and eligibility requirements for the caregiver of choice, with some states being stricter than others. To find out if your state has a caregiver financial assistance program, contact your local Medicaid office or Aging Services Department. You can also find the National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services at caregiver.org.
- Veterans Programs- Caregivers of veterans may qualify for additional assistance. A law passed in 2010 provides a stipend for primary caregivers of any injured veteran in military conflict since 9/11. Benefits may include travel expenses, health care insurance, and mental health services. Caregivers of injured veterans prior to 9/11 may still qualify for assistance through a program called the VA’s Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit. Contact 1-877-222-VETS for more information.
- Long-Term Care Insurance- If you are providing care for a family member who has long-term care insurance, there’s a possibility it may cover home care. Some policies allow family members to be paid provided they do not live in the same household. Contact your family member’s insurance agent to explain the policy and its benefits and conditions.
- Caregiver Contract- In some situations, a family member might have the means to pay a relative for the care they provide. In this scenario, write up a contract with the help of an Elder Care lawyer. An experienced legal professional will ensure important areas are covered, such as taxes, inheritance, and potential family dynamics.
Points to Ponder
While it’s important to research your financial assistance options, there are additional considerations too. Tax benefits, program requirements, and how money is spent are key questions.
- Tax Benefits- Contact your tax professional to inquire about any tax deductions or benefits for which you qualify.
- Program Requirements- Some states require certain qualifications to provide care for a family member. Registering as a licensed care provider, background checks, and possible payroll taxes are all examples of state program requirements. Low-cost training may be available to become certified as a licensed elderly care provider.
- Allowances for Allocated Money- Typically “cash and counseling” program monies may be used to purchase items directly related to the patients activities of daily living, or ADLs. Qualifying activities include anything related to the patient’s: feeding, clothing, toileting, grooming, bathing, walking, and maintaining continence. Skills people need to live independently comprise the ADLs list. For example, cleaning services, meal preparation, or laundry services could easily qualify as a patient’s ADLs needs. If necessary, speak with a healthcare provider when adjustments need made to your patient or loved one’s ADLs.
When acting as a caregiver, it’s important to practice good self-care. Constantly seeing to the needs of others can leave you depleted and hardly thinking of yourself. It’s important to consider your own future as well, both medical and financial.
- Financial- Be sure to contribute to your own retirement and savings accounts. Speak with a professional financial planner regarding investment banking and to discuss options for your own financial long-term medical care.
- Insurance- Insurance helps to provide peace of mind. Whether homeowners, life, long-term care, or caregiver insurance, having the right insurance for your needs is key. Should an accident occur in your home while caring for a family member, you will want your policy to cover it. An insurance agent will be able to help you select the right coverage for your specific situation. In addition, consider long-term care coverage for yourself and loved ones. The best time to acquire this coverage is in your 50s.
- Respite Care- Caregiving can be a time-consuming, emotionally-wearying experience. Be sure to factor in financial options for respite care. For example, this might be monies allocated for an occasional professional caregiving service to a weekend away for respite care.
The benefits of caregiving are immeasurable, both in shared memories and relationship. However, the financial costs are real. Knowing the caregiving options for financial aid can help you and your loved one make informed decisions in the days ahead. Focus more on what matters most by minimizing the monetary strain.
If you are are looking at different financial assistance for caregivers consider talking to a counselor.