Can Full-Time Family Caregivers Get Paid?
Can Full-Time Family Caregivers Get Paid?

Categories: Caregiving

National Caregivers Month Logo

By Guest Blogger Erin Palmer, Writer and Editor at Bisk Education

Every day in the United States, millions of people play the part of a full-time caregiver to family members with disabilities and those fighting serious illness. It is a role that is not only demanding and challenging, but one that should be recognized and appreciated.

In November of 1994, the National Family Caregivers Association began celebrating the role of the family caregiver in an effort to raise awareness. In 1997, President Clinton signed the first proclamation, appreciating family caregivers, and every president since – regardless of their party affiliation – has signed one as well.

What was once National Family Caregivers Week has now become National Family Caregivers Month; a time to thank and support caregivers, as well as educate and empower them, so they may continue the important work they do with strength and motivation.

Can Family Caregivers Be Paid?

A common question asked by full-time family caregivers is if they can get paid for taking care of their loved ones. Whether you can receive compensation to take care of a loved one with disabilities depends on your state and the circumstances.

The need for caregiver financial assistance in the United States is pronounced, since most long-term care is provided by unpaid family members. Single-handedly, people are meeting the needs of the ever increasing aging population in this country. In an effort to support these honorable family members, the federal government enacted the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) in 2000.

Although all states currently offer some kind of aid to caregivers, the specific programs can vary greatly from state-to-state and sometimes vary between jurisdictions within the same state. Also, programs that do offer pay don’t always provide it on a regular basis.

Besides financial support, many local programs offer family caregivers counseling, training, support groups and respite care, so that they can get a much needed break.

It should also be noted that in some states, Medicaid (not Medicare) will pay family caregivers to provide care at home. If your loved one is eligible for Medicaid, find out if you may be able to receive financial assistance.

Where Can I Find State Resources?

There are great resources both online and offline that will help you find various forms of caregiver assistance. One of the best places to start is with your Area Agency on Aging. They should be able to point you to various programs and services that can help.

In addition, the Family Caregiver Alliance offers the Family Care Navigator, a comprehensive state-by-state online resource that can help you find government, nonprofit and private programs in your local area. The site also includes information on government health and disability programs, as well as legal resources.

How Can I Be Paid as a Caregiver?

It is becoming more common for family caregivers to be paid directly by their loved ones. If deciding to go this route, make sure you and your loved one have a caregiver contract in place, which can prove your loved one is paying for a service and not giving a monetary gift. A history of cash gifts can disqualify him or her from future enrollment in the Medicaid program, so definitely look into getting a contract in place. Also, as the caregiver, it is your responsibility to pay taxes on your earnings, and your loved one must also report the payment on their tax forms.

Another avenue to consider is to check into your loved one’s long-term care insurance policy. Some plans offer a cash benefit that allows the policyholder to spend an agreed-upon amount each month on assistance. These policies are very expensive, thus, they are few and far between. However, if your loved one has one, then it is in your best interest to check into it.

In situations where you simply are not eligible for direct financial assistance, consider whether you qualify for claiming your loved one as a dependent on your income tax return. Your loved one doesn’t need to live in your house, but you are required to provide more than 50 percent of their basic living expenses.

Finally, you may be able to deduct various medical expenses. For instance, if you use your car to drive them to and from doctors’ appointments, or if you purchase their prescription medication, you may be able to claim these expenses as long as you are paying more than 50 percent of their medical fees.

If you are caring for a loved one who is a veteran, you may be eligible for assistance through the Department of Veterans Affairs Caregivers Program. Find out more by visiting http://www.caregiver.va.gov/.

If you are one of the millions of caregivers in this country, know that there is help out there which can alleviate some of your financial burden. Speak to your local office for the aging and research online for programs and services offered in your area.

Erin Palmer is a writer and editor who covers topics related to master’s in public administration programs.  She also writes about nonprofit careers like how to become a nonprofit executive director. 

42 Responses to Can Full-Time Family Caregivers Get Paid?

  1. Samantha says:

    Hi, i live in california and I have a family friend close to me with a rare and serious illness. I was wondering where I could to look to find out if I am eligible to be her caretaker. Although we are not blood related, i found some information online stating that it is up to the person to chose who they want to look after them and it is possible to be considered like a family member without being directly related.
    Anything will help, Thank you!

  2. Nancy says:

    My son is 21, he finished high school and is now at the Miller Career and Transition Center. He is low functioning. He is good at the computer and fast with printing. I want him to have a job, just 2-4 days per month. Not for the money, but at least he will have something to do better than staying home almost all of the time. PLEASE if you know of some places that give a chance for people with disabilities and make these people happy because they keep saying he can work. Thank you.

    • Disability.Blog Team says:

      Hi Nancy,

      If your son is not receiving job placement help through the Miller Center, you may wish to contact the California Department of Rehabilitation. To apply for services, including job training and job search assistance, visit http://www.dor.ca.gov/Apply-4-Services.html. You may also wish to contact a nonprofit organization in your area, such as The Arc of Los Angeles, which offers employment services for adults with intellectual disabilities (http://www.thearclaoc.org/employment_services.html).

      Best,

      The Disability.Blog Team

  3. Jessica says:

    My grandma just lost her husband and she has Macular Degeneration really bad and needs constant help because her eye sight is so bad. She also was in hospital with severe Colitas and has to be on special foods and she cannot see to cook her foods, so we want her to move in with us, but that would mean we have to rent a larger place and I would have to quit my job. I also have an infant, so financially we are really strapped. Can I get any financial assistance so we do not have to put her in a nursing home? Where do I go from here? We are in Florida – North Port.

  4. John S. says:

    In my state, Nevada, the family is required and expected to provide the care. There are programs available, but to be frank, they don’t help. If my wife needs 24-hour care, I am unable to work a full-time job. I was able to qualify for a RN to come by for about an hour three times a week. I ended up with an RN that came twice and did not show on the third day. In any case, this does not help me to go back to work. I am not sure what I can do really, except continue to help my wife. My bills and related living expenses are going to go by the wayside. I may bankrupt before long. My wife’s neuro can’t stand working with us anymore because of the amount of paperwork we have created for him by applying for the multitude of programs that just have to have his signature here and there, and certified letters over and over. He now makes excuses that he cancelled our appointment, but called the wrong patient to advise them. I don’t really blame him, but now I am out a neuro as well. So, what is a man to do? Try and give my wife the assistance she needs every day until some program finally recognizes that I have sunk.

  5. Billie says:

    My husband has Buergers Disease and PAD. He has been like this for a year and a half. He can’t do anything, amputated fingers rottening off. I can’t work and we are fixing to lose our house, transportation. I need help. He is bed riden. I’m in Texas. We have no insurance. Please, any information will help. I’m at wits ends.

  6. Studio D. says:

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  7. Tabatha W. says:

    Hello. I am a mother of two sets of twins. One out of each set is autistic and they function on different levels. My son is higher functioning and has terrible behaviors and my daughter who is 8 is lower functioning and is still in diapers and cannot talk. I need to know if there is any way I can get assistance in Ohio where I live or where to look it up. If there is any information you can give me that would be great. Thank you.

    • Lynn says:

      Hello, Tabatha I have a older son with autism and he does not speak and I have to take care of him, and I am also a widow. You are entitled to receive Social Security disability for both of your kids, you also should be receiving Medicaid for both of them and you should be able to receive free supplies like pull ups, wipes, gloves, plastic undergarments for your daughter and once your children turn 18, you as a caregiver to your children can get paid to care for your children. I know for one child it’s about $480 a month, and you should be receiving food stamps also, the benefits are usually the same in every state. I wish you the best. I know how hard it is to take care of a child with autism and you have two kids with it that’s difficult. I love my son more then anything in this world.

  8. Kay N. says:

    My only child has muscular dystrophy and can’t do anything, he is in a wheelchair and home schooled and I lost my job because of my son’s disease. I need help finding finanical assistance or how to get the state to pay me to be my son’s caregiver.

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  10. Message in a Bottle says:

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  11. Julie B. says:

    My son is an incomplete quad, he has been out of the hospital and rehab facility for over a year. I’ve had to quit my job to care for him and now my unemployment benefits have run out. He has Medicaid and SSDI, and we live in Florida. We have had to jump through so many hoops that I am incapable of talking to another caseworker. We were told I could get paid to become his caregiver, however, he would have to go into a nursing home for 60 days in order for me to be paid for being his caregiver. A. this makes no sense to me. B. his MD has written a prescription stating he requires 24 hour care C. why would he have to into a nursing home, as I have been his caregiver, and know what I am doing, and am quite sure his health will decline in a nursing home? This is like the horse WAS in FRONT of the cart, and now the CART is going to be in FR0NT of the cart. I am aware of the games that have to be played to get help, but I cannot accept it this time. Please, any advice, other than (if possible) sending me to yet another website or person to contact. I think we have done it all. I need an explanation of this absurd “protocol.”

    • Disability.Blog Team says:

      Hi Julie,

      We know the different systems at the federal, state and local levels can sometimes be very confusing. Unfortunately, because every state is different, and programs that pay for people to be caregivers are typically administered at the state level, we are not able to know the explanation for why they have established certain rules or regulations. Your local Independent Living Center will likely be much more familiar with the ins and outs of your state’s program. If you have not reached out to them already, you may wish to do so. You can find contact information at http://www.ilru.org/html/publications/directory/florida.html.

      Best,

      The Disability.Blog Team

  12. Raine G. says:

    My husband was diagnosed with Degenerative Disk Disease, Spinal Stenosis, & Epilepsy. He had surgery in Sept. 2012 to remove a herniated disc in his neck. Since then his condition has worsened, the seizures are more frequent & different, he has three more discs failing, has developed arthritis in his shoulder from a previous injury, is in constant severe pain from severe muscle spasms & nerve damage & he is only 31 yrs old & a father of four – 3 to 10 yrs old. We depleted our savings & now rely on our parents to help pay our monthly expenses. We receive food stamps & Medicaid, but my caseworker isn’t helping me in finding some other type of assistance. I take care of him 24/7 & the children, he isn’t left alone due to the seizures. I’ve already applied for disability, & retained a lawyer so now we are waiting on a hearing date, but they said it could take 12-18 mths & it’s already been a year & six mths since he’s been able to work. Is there ANY other assistance I can apply for to help us?

  13. Jeromy Paul N. says:

    My name is Jeromy N. If my wife Michelle did not help with my medical care since I have been out of the hospital, I would have probably perished. By the Grace of God and my doctors, I survived! This disease kills most people it comes in contact with or at least they have extremities that have to be amputated because of of how fast the tissue has necrotized. It eats away tissue and muscle and bone tendons and ligaments. Thanks to GOD I’m still here for my family and I want to give a major shout out to my Lord God, for without him I would not be here. I want to end this by thanking my family, for without them I would have no reason to live. My wife and kids need me. It’s going to have a hard and pain filled life but well worth being able to share it all with my wonderful family! Thank God for my wife who takes care of me full time every day!Thank you my Michelle for doing everything for me….for us!

  14. Tammy W. says:

    Hello,

    I’m looking for information on Caregiver benefits. My oldest son has been taking care of both myself and my youngest son for the past 4 yrs. He is out of work now and solely caring for us. He also has his wife and two daughters, 5 and 7. We are now trying to live on our SSI disability checks (6 of us on $1400.00 a month). Is it even possible for him to get Caregiver pay somehow? He works pretty hard keeping up the household, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, running both my son and me to doctors, hospital stays and tests, making sure bills are paid, running for the children, picking up meds or medical equipment and much more. The household is way more then a full time job. Not only that, but the emotional toll. I would appreciate any advice. Thank you for your time.

    • John S. says:

      Hi Tammy,

      I think our situations are similar. We may have fallen in between the cracks of Fed, State, Local programs. Your son is a good man taking on the responsibilities he has, however that does not help pay the bills. I have applied to every program available while taking extended FMLA in the hopes that my wife would qualify for something that would allow me to go back to work. The paperwork-load this put on both our primary care physician and neurologist was so great, that just yesterday, they both advised they want to stop seeing us. So now, I am truly at a loss. Early on I was considered to be employed so I was disqualified on income alone; even though I have not been paid while on FMLA. So here we are, disabled wife, and unemployed husband with no where to turn. We will eat it for sure. We exhausted our savings, life insurance, friends, family, 401(k), everything. And now we have to re-apply for welfare. I say, if you are blessed with a challenge as great as your son and myself have received, do not give up on the important things, the rest can wait or be damned. The unfortunate short of it is, I don’t think there is help for our situations. It really feels as if one is alone. If my doctors don’t want the trouble, my city, state, and federal government sure as heck doesn’t.

  15. Margarita G. says:

    Hi,

    I need to know if I can get paid for taking care of my son who is handicapped and my husband who is blind. They do get SSI, but I do not get paid at all. What can I do to get paid? I know there is a way because I was told from a lady in San Antonio, Texas that there is a way. Please help.

  16. Emily D. says:

    I am the full time caregiver for my mother who has alzhiemers. She is on hospice, but they only provide a CNA who only comes out 1 hour per day, 5 days a week and a nurse visit every other week. The only income we have is her Social Security. I have asked the hospice social worker as well as the long term care social worker about financial assistance. Both have said that they know of no way I can get paid for being her caregiver. I cannot work because she requires 24 hour care. Can you direct me to another source?

  17. Donald Dean W. SR VSO says:

    Please give me some info on how I can assist my Veterans. I already got the A&A benefit for them or their spouse. I need info on how I can get their spouse or relative paid who are certified, RNs or not to take care of their in-home situation. Don W.

  18. Christie O. says:

    My husband is 49 and disabled and basically bedridden. I take care of him 24/7. NC medicaid will not allow a family member to be paid as a home health nurse to take care of family members. Is there any other way I could get paid for taking care of him? It takes every penny of the $710.00 he gets just to pay our bills every month. What can I do?

  19. Lynne says:

    In our state, Michigan, parents can be paid caregivers. This does help compensate for being unable to work full time (for me, or at all for others) but the rate is so low it is certainly no a substitute.

    I think it’s ridiculous that some states won’t pay immediate family members for caring for adults who require significant on-going assistance.

    Another frustration is that one can be paid for providing services (personal care, etc.) but not for supervision. For people who require 24/7 supervision/monitoring, this is a problem.

  20. Joan H. says:

    I thought caregiver’s stipends were considered noncountable income? The IRS has paperwork that I have that says income for caregivers is not taxable or countable.

  21. Julie says:

    I am disabled and need assistance with housework, laundry, etc. I am mostly mentally disabled, but also have a large number of physical issues, but none that are visible. I am only 41. My husband takes care of me, but he needs a break. (He can’t work full time as he needs to help me.) Is there such a thing as a housework program where they come 3 days a week and help with this so he can go back to work full time?

  22. Sandra T. says:

    I am a full time care giver for my Mom who had cancer and neck surgery and is partially paralyzed on her right side. I also take care of my adult son who is autistic. It is very difficult to keep a job and take them to their doctor appointments, physical therapy appointments – you get the idea. Does the state of KY provide any sort of income for caregivers?

  23. Khaled L. says:

    I like this job.

  24. Julia M. says:

    I am my husband of 58 years caregiver, now for 5 years, he has Parkinson disease. Was in Korea conflict, sevice from Feb. 51 – Feb. 54. He won’t let just anyone care for him, tried services from VA but he don’t want them. I do have a friend he will let come and stay with him and I pay her from my pocket. I feel safe leaving her with him, also. Why can’t the VA help me and others with help we know and can trust? I understand that the help they have is registered, but I’m limited to how much I can us them. I have had some health problems myself now and need to take care of me so I can keep helping my husband.

  25. billmw says:

    I have been taking care of and giving aid to my mom and dad for the last 11 years. Dad died in 08. Mom is now 90.
    This is the most stressfull activity I have ever been involved in, including heart failure and med implants for myself.
    That said it is not the purpose nor mission of our insurance programs to pay family members for their time with care giving activities to other family members. It should provide qualified care where eligible benefits are available and assist those to find and receive that aid. billmW

  26. Penny B. says:

    What happened to the VA caregiver program? You only mentioned states, that is federal and there are programs for this.

    • Disability.Blog Team says:

      Hi Penny,

      You are correct that this blog post does not mention the VA Caregiver Program, which is available through the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. We will add information on the program, which can be found at http://www.caregiver.va.gov/, to the post. Thank you for your feedback!

      Best,

      The Disability.Blog Team

  27. Dawn says:

    My husband after 10 1/2 years of service has tremendous amount of problems after three combat tours. He has PTSD @50 % and Back Surgery, which is why I’m writing to you for help. I have to wash clothes and dress my husband every day. I had to give up my job and my life to take care of my husband. He cannot pick up over 10lbs., bend over, sit for eight hours per week, sit for more than 8 hrs. in a week. My husband cannot do anything, no shopping, cutting grass, weed eating, washing dishes, clothes, making the bed or anything, you get the picture. Please help me with finding financial assistance, after quitting my job, it’s put us in a financial problem.

    • Disability.Blog Team says:

      Hi Dawn,

      You may wish to check out the resources available through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Caregiver Program. You can find more information by visiting http://www.caregiver.va.gov/ or calling the VA’s Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274 (Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. ET, Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. ET).

      Best,

      The Disability.Blog Team