According to a recent study “Caregiving in the U.S. 2020” by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC), roughly 53 million Americans provide UNPAID care to an ailing or aging loved one. And they do so for an average of nearly 24 hours per week, states a recent AARP article entitled “Can I Get Paid to Be a Caregiver for a Family Member?”
There are a few programs which will pay family caregivers for the assistance they provide.
Medicaid. All 50 states and DC have self-directed Medicaid services for long-term care. These programs let states grant waivers that allow qualified people to manage their own long-term home-care services, as an alternative to the traditional model where services are managed by an agency. In some states, that can include hiring a family member (not a spouse) to provide care. The benefits, coverage, eligibility, and rules differ from state to state, and program to program.
Veterans have several plans for which they may qualify:
Veteran Directed Care. This plan lets qualified former service members manage their own long-term services and supports. It is available in 37 states, DC, and Puerto Rico for veterans of all ages who are enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration health care system and need the level of care a nursing facility provides but want to live at home or the home of a loved one.
Veterans’ Pension (Aid and Attendance). This program supplements a military pension to help cover the cost of a caregiver, who may be a family member. These benefits can also offset the cost of paid in-home care or assisted living care. These benefits are available to veterans who qualify for VA pension and meet certain criteria. In addition, surviving spouses of qualifying veterans may be eligible for this benefit.
Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. This program gives a monthly stipend to a vet’s family members who serve as caregivers who need assistance with everyday activities because of a traumatic injury sustained in the line of duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001.
Other caregiver benefits through the program include the following:
- Access to health insurance and mental health services, including counseling
- Comprehensive training
- Lodging and travel expenses incurred when accompanying vets going through care; and
- Up to 30 days of respite care per year.
The rules for eligibility vary by program and can be very complicated. It is wise to consult with an experienced elder law attorney to ensure that there are no costly mistakes. A Certified Elder Law Attorney will be familiar with the latest Medicaid requirements. Look for an attorney who is accredited with the Veteran’s Administration to help with Veteran’s Pension Qualification.
Reference: AARP (May 15, 2021) “Can I Get Paid to Be a Caregiver for a Family Member?”