Sometimes the most important work is the most undervalued. In this article, we explain how to make money as a family caregiver, and we hope to encourage you to reach out and find financial help when you need it, and to do so without shame.
Caregiving is not easy, and for many, it’s a full-time job. Many caregivers are underpaid, and others work without financial compensation at all. This situation can be unfair and can leave the caregiver feeling resentment, frustration, or, in extreme cases, burnout.
So, if you’re wondering how to get paid for taking care of a family member, you’ll likely be glad to hear that there are options to help carry some of the financial burdens.
Be sure to take the time to thoughtfully consider all options that you and your senior may qualify for as you make your decision. You may be surprised by what sorts of benefits are available out there.
Can I get paid for taking care of a family member?
The short answer is yes, you can make money as a family caregiver. But specifically how to make money as a family caregiver will require a more complex answer.
To some extent, your ability to make money as a caregiver may depend on the person you care for.
Individuals who qualify for Medicaid or veteran’s benefits, for example, may have access to the means to pay a caregiver without dipping into their personal finances. We discuss both of these possibilities in more depth later on.
Paying a Family Member for Caregiving
Some individuals may feel more comfortable paying family members for elder care themselves rather than seeking outside funding. This is perfectly legal, so long as all parties agree to it, and it may be one of the most effective answers for someone wondering how to make money as a family caregiver.
For those who’d like to set up a formal arrangement for receiving payment, a personal care agreement can be used. A personal care agreement is a legally binding, written contract that clarifies what tasks will be completed for what kind of compensation.
Asking family members to consider a written contract to guarantee payment may sound intimidating. It’s certainly true that these sorts of conversations can be challenging, but they are essential when it comes to ensuring your loved one receives the care they deserve.
A potential benefit of using a personal care agreement is the ability to avoid arguments and confusion over who is responsible for what care/ who is responsible for which payments. The initial discomfort of presenting the idea is likely far less of a burden than prolonged conflict.
You also might want to consult an elder care lawyer to review your agreement. This process also involves getting the approval of other interested parties (like siblings).
If your family is reluctant to offer financial help, remind them that in other circumstances they might need to pay more for an outside helper. You may worry that your family is unable or unwilling to help financially, but you will not have a definitive answer until you bring up the topic with them, or talk over your options with an attorney.
Taking advantage of Social Security disability benefits is another potential way to make money as a caregiver. As a caregiver, you can also apply for these benefits on behalf of the care recipient.
Social Security disability benefits include both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
If the person applying (or the person you’re applying for) was previously employed, has worked within the past ten years, and paid Social Security taxes, they are likely eligible for SSDI. This insurance can help cover the costs of living support, including caregiving.
SSI benefits are need-based, so an in-depth look at financial and living situations is needed to determine exact details. These benefits are available to family members and loved ones, though, who may serve as a family caretaker.
Medicare and Medicaid
Medicare does not provide access to funding for full-time medical care or support, but it can provide access to funding for medical supplies and equipment, like walkers.
Part-time or intermittent home-care or healthcare services may be covered by Medicare, but if you’re looking to secure a way to pay a family member to be a caregiver, Medicaid may provide a more viable option.
Medicaid Caregiver Program
If you’re caring for someone who is eligible for Medicaid, you may be able to utilize it to make money as a caregiver.
All 50 states offer what’s known as self-directed Medicaid services for long-term care. These programs allow a state to grant a waiver that permits an individual to manage their own long-term care services and needs.
In some states, these long-term care services can include hiring a family member (or someone else) to be a caregiver.
Specific details regarding who the caregiver can be (some states may require them to live outside the home of the person in need of care), benefits, eligibility, and others vary. It’s best to contact your state Medicaid program for detailed information.
Caring for Veterans
If the individual you’re caring for is a veteran, there are four available options for how to make money as a family caregiver:
- Veteran Directed Care: As is the case with Medicaid, these programs allow qualifying veterans to manage their own long-term care services. This option is only available in 37 states (as well as DC and Puerto Rico) as of right now. A budget of around $2000 a month is given to veterans to use on services they find most useful, which can include a family caregiver. Veteran Affairs (VA) medical centers determine eligibility for this funding, so be sure to contact your local center for more specific information.
- Aid and Attendance (A&A) Benefits: Veterans who qualify for VA pensions and meet a specific set of criteria can receive funding (which supplements a pension) that can pay for a caregiver. This caregiver can be a family member. At least one of the criteria, listed below, must be met to qualify for this particular option:
- The individual needs help from someone else to perform everyday functions (eating, bathing, etc.)
- The individual finds themselves bed-bound due to disability
- The individual is in a nursing home or assisted living because of physical or mental disability/incapacity
- The individual has severely limited eyesight capabilities, even with corrective lenses
Interested parties must fill out an application to send (alongside information regarding why a caregiver is needed) to a regional VA benefits office.
- Housebound Benefits: Veterans who qualify for pensions and find themselves continuously confined to their homes due to disability can receive a monthly pension supplement. This pension can be used for services that are helpful to the veteran, like hiring a family caregiver. Housebound benefits and A&A benefits, while similar, can not be received at the same time.
- Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers: This program exists to provide a monthly stipend specifically for those who need help with everyday activities because of a traumatic injury sustained in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001. This program is unique because it offers the kind of benefits one might associate with a more traditional full-time job (like access to health insurance). The care recipient must be enrolled in VA health services, and the caretaker must be 18+ years of age as well be related to (or live with) the care recipient. Based on how much time is spent caregiving, a family caregiver might be able to earn a decent amount of money. Yearly pay in 2017 for those in the program ranged from $7000-$30,000 – and, best of all, the stipend is not considered taxable income.
Caregiving is a full-time, all-encompassing job. It can be as rewarding as it is challenging, but when it comes to finances it might seem like there’s little positivity to be found.
This does not have to be the case! There are many options for people wondering how to make money as a family caregiver, as we’ve just unpacked, to help you and/or your senior acquire the support that you need. It is possible to make money as a caregiver, even if you are a family member.
Regardless of where you receive payment from, figuring out what type of compensation (and in what quantity) works for your situation will likely be a process. Use this article s a master list and go investigating each option further. We hope that you find the financial compensation that you truly deserve!
- Applying as a Caregiver of an Adult with an Illness, Disability Benefits Center, www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org
- Can I Get Paid to Be a Caregiver for a Family Member? American Association of Retired Persons, www.aarp.org
- Medicare Home Health Benefits: What Caregiving Costs are Covered, American Association of Retired Persons, www.aarp.org
- Personal Care Agreements, Family Caregiver Alliance, www.caregiver.org
- What Every Caregiver Needs to Know About Money, Family Caregiver Alliance, www.caregiver.org