DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: I have been taking care of my elderly mother for nearly three years and it's taking a huge toll on my finances. Are there any resources you know about that can help family caregivers get paid?
DEAR EXHAUSTED: To get paid as a family caregiver, there are various government programs, tax breaks and family payment options that may be able to help you, depending on your mom's financial situation. Here's where to look for help.
If your mom is low-income and eligible for Medicaid, you may be able to get paid a small amount by the state. In 15 states, Medicaid offers a Cash & Counseling program (see cashandcounseling.org) that provides an allowance that can be used for various services, including paying family members for care.
Many other states have similar programs for low-income seniors, even if the person receiving care doesn't quite qualify for Medicaid. To find out about these options contact your local Medicaid office.
In some communities across the U.S., veterans who are at risk of nursing home placement can enroll in the Veteran-Directed Home and Community Based Services program, that allows veterans to manage their own care, including hiring and paying their own caregivers.
Also available to wartime veterans and their spouses, is a benefit called Aid and Attendance that helps pay for in-home care, as well as assisted living and nursing home care. This benefit can also be used to pay family caregivers.
To be eligible your mom must need assistance with daily living activities like bathing, dressing or going to the bathroom. And, her income must be under $13,362 as a surviving spouse — minus medical and long-term care expenses. If your mom is a single veteran, her income must be below $20,795 to be eligible. Her assets must also be less than $80,000 excluding her home and car.
To learn more see va.gov/geriatrics, or contact your regional VA office, or your local veterans service organization. For contact information, call (800) 827-1000.