A study done by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Public Policy Institute in 2019, revealed that over 40 million family caregivers in the United States worked for nearly 35 billion hours. Those family members all put in long, stressful hours providing unpaid care. That amounts to a staggering $470 billion in economic value.
In the state of Minnesota alone, over 500,000 caregivers forgo about $8 billion in economic gain every year to provide free care to a loved one. Most frequently they provide non-medical home care for disabled family members or their elderly parents, according to the Minnesota Leadership Council on Aging.
Providing care to an elderly adult is rather expensive. It actually costs caregivers to provide unpaid care. They spend their own money on items like home modifications, child-care, food and medical supplies, while they lose out on potential income and benefits due to opportunity costs or lost time at work.
Many caregivers have to reduce their working hours or quit their jobs altogether, so they can provide care to an elderly adult or sick family member when becoming a caregiver. They must be there to prepare their food, make sure they attend their appointments, provide companionship, assist them with their daily tasks, and ensure their overall well-being and safety. All this while receiving zero compensation for their time.
Medicare, the governmental health insurance plan for Americans aged 65 and older, does not cater to long-term care provisions in many cases. Adult day services or in-home care, regardless of whether the caregiver is a family member or a professional healthcare worker, is frequently not covered. Due to loss of income and extra costs related to medical care, any extra money could help lighten the financial burden. Most family caregivers are not aware that they could benefit financially from caregiving, but in many cases this is possible.
Government benefit programs and several non-governmental organizations offer ways to financially benefit from being a caregiver under certain circumstances. These organizations provide financial relief to caregiving family members for the purpose of buying medical supplies, getting help from respite care, and sometimes paying for caregiving services in general.
These programs vary state to state. Some states offer benefits such as paying family members to care for people through their Medicaid programs. Medicaid is a governmental health insurance program for low-income and retired people. Certain states also offer financial support to people who are not covered by Medicaid through other programs.
The downside is that these agencies and programs are often quite saturated, and not available everywhere in the United States. Eligibility also varies, and not everyone is going to qualify for financial assistance under these programs. However, it is still worth researching. Your hospital or medical provider or state medicaid office should be able to point you in the right direction.
How You Can Get Paid As A Family Member Caregiver
Listed below are a few steps you can follow, to make sure you receive monetary compensation for providing care to a family member when eligible.
1. Find Out If Your Family Member Is Covered by a Long-Term Care Insurance Policy
There are some long-term care insurance policies that have clauses which involve paying a family member as a caregiver. According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, (commonly referred to as the AALTCI) these riders or clauses exist in many policies. It is therefore critical that you find out if the family member under your care is covered by such a policy. It is important to call the insurance company and seek clarification from an agent regarding the caregiver payment benefit and to review the policy yourself.
2. Consult With Your Local State Agency on Aging
The agency on aging operating within your state can give you an in-depth insight into available programs. Medicaid can advise you on whether your state may pay a family member to be a caregiver. It is also likely that the agency runs various support programs. These programs are frequently meant to provide some type of financial support for family members providing care to people aged 60 and higher.
If you don’t know how to reach your local state agency on aging, visit The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging at https://www.n4a.org/. On their site you can search for your state or city to find the office nearest you. You can also try to find out if your state government provides any other support programs. Through the American Elder Care Research Organization, there is an online listing of non-Medicaid programs available in every state.
3. Explore Options Provided By Non-Governmental Agencies
The Family Caregiver Alliance has an amazing navigation tool on their website, that can assist caregivers all across the United States. Here they can find private, public, and nonprofit programs near the location of their respective family members.
You might also come across organizations that provide financial assistance to elderly people suffering from a particular condition. It could be providing care to cancer patients at home or life long illnesses like Alzheimer’s. CancerCare is a good example of such an organization.
If no options for non-governmental or governmental agencies exist, you can also use medical fundraising sites like Medgift.org that allow you to get support from your local community, friends, and family by creating online support pages.
4. Do Research On Whether Your Family Member Qualifies for Veterans Aid
United States Army Veterans at risk of being placed in nursing homes, can register for community-based service programs. These programs work to help veterans self-manage how they are cared for. This includes paying family members, or hiring home caregivers.
Veteran-Directed Care is an example of such a program. It works just like Medicaid’s self-directed care program does. It gives veterans control of their long-term care, and is available in about 37 states. Qualifying recipients are given about $2,000 on a monthly basis, to help them access the goods and services they need the most for their care. Things such as a caregiver who can help them with preparing meals, cleaning, using the bathroom, or fitting prosthetic devices can be covered by this program.
Aid and Attendance benefits are another example of financial aid provided to veterans. It supplements the military pension they are awarded to help cover the cost of a caregiver. Veterans who qualify for pension disbursements from the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, are eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits if they have poor eyesight, are bedridden due to disability, are in a nursing home as a result of physical or mental illness, or need help to perform daily functions such as eating or dressing.
5. Find Out If Your Family Can Pay You Instead
Considering you are sacrificing a lot of time and possibly a lot of your money in the process, you have the right to ask other family members if they can help pay you for your work and time. It costs over $4,000 to hire an in-home caregiver, so it would make more sense if your family members could pay you instead.
Set up a meeting with your family members, as well as the person you are going to be taking care of. If your family member is physically and mentally fit to discuss how to go about the funding, this would be beneficial to everyone involved. Try to approach the topic from a practical perspective. Emotions will already be high around this time, and money is an emotionally-charged topic for many. Preparing factual points and information ahead of time will help make the discussion more productive.
No matter where you get funding from, make sure that you retain any records detailing services rendered and expenses incurred. Dates of when you began working, for how long, and the amount of money to be paid to you are critical to get reimbursement from government programs and family alike. Don’t forget to track expenses for food, travel, and medical expenses as well. If necessary, consult with an elder care lawyer or financial planner to assist you better.
Providing care to a relative is a demanding and highly rewarding job. As a family member, you will be in the best position to make sure your relative receives the best care you can provide. You will also get to establish a stronger bond with your family member, during their later years if they are elderly. As their primary caregiver you will not have to worry about concerns such as unsympathetic or non-attentive strangers looking after your family. You will be able to keep peace of mind, in knowing you are able to be there with your beloved family member giving the best care possible.
However, providing quality care to a family member can be costly and stressful. Caregivers need to focus on self-care, and reducing financial stress. If you are a caregiver enjoying your job but would like to find a way to make ends meet, the tips highlighted above should set you in the right direction.
If you have more questions, feel free to contact us any time we are here to help. Look through Medgift.org for more information on being a caregiver, start a medical support page to get more support from friends and family, or message us HERE with any direct questions you have at any time. We understand how hard it can be, and we are here to make it easier in any way we can.
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