I Take Care of My Mother. Can I Legally Get Paid for That?

As the number of family members providing care for aging parents increases, the solutions to find help with loss of income because of time off from employment for caregiving has become a major concern for many. The demands on both the time and energy needed to provide the needed care can make it impossible to maintain both a full time job with full time caregiving.

Angela is a registered nurse. Her mother, Renee, has been experiencing a gradual decline in her health due to her Alzheimer’s and stroke and recently moved in with Angela. Angela is taking more and more time off from work to give Renee the care she needs. Sometimes she misses out on important overtime that her household finances depend on. Angela started paying herself out of her mother’s account for the care that she gives Renee. She pays herself some weeks, and doesn’t on others, even though she is providing the same care.

It is understandable that Angela would want to be paid for the care she is giving her mother, especially when it is interfering with her current job. Also if it wasn’t for this care, Renee would be in a nursing home. But, Angela must be sure to go about getting paid correctly.

The National Family Caregiver Support Program was created by the federal government to support family caregivers. While reviewing this site, Angela found out where she can get respite care for Renee, so she can take a much needed vacation with her husband. She also discovered how she may get paid, without feeling bad about her mother’s dwindling funds, and how these payments can continue after her mother runs out of money.

Often overlooked, the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance pension benefit is a great source of money to pay family caregivers to provide care at home. This money is available to veterans who served during a period of war. Pension money is also available to the widows of these veterans. This benefit, under the right circumstances, can provide up to $1,949 a month in additional income to pay family members to provide care at home. Luckily, Angela’s late husband was a WWII veteran and she qualifies for aid. However, she must have a professionally drafted caregiver contract in place, get a medical evaluation, meet income and asset qualifications, and have proof of medical expenses and care needed.

Alternatively, or sometimes in addition to, a long term care insurance policy covers home care and payment to the care giver from this source could be arranged. Some policies require the care provider to be through a licensed home care agency, but others will pay for individual aides certified as such. This would require some training by the family member to become certified, unless they had a nursing background, like Angela. Renee did not have a long term care insurance policy in place. However, there are policies that pay a daily benefit amount to the insured to use as they want to pay for their care.

In some cases the elder has the funds to pay for their own care. If a family member is giving care it is very important that a professionally drafted caregiver contract be in place. Without one, any payments could disqualify the elder from certain MassHealth/Medicaid long-term care payments. Lump sum payments for care and/or retroactive payments are never a good idea.

A caregiver contract prepared by an elder law attorney like Attorney Kristina R. Vickstrom, will be a signed and dated agreement will outline the services provided as well as the amount of pay for these services. The contract will eliminate questions about what is expected from both parent and caregiver as well as providing a legitimate contract and a clear and consistent payment record of services to qualify for MassHealth/Medicaid. The contact will be treated as an employer/employee relationship and payroll records must be kept with taxes paid. Retroactive payments for care-giving are almost never allowed when applying for MassHealth/Medicaid.

The family member providing such care, like Angela, can not only save their loved one from needing nursing home services outside of the home, but also could protect assets in the event that long-term care is needed in the future. Please contact Vickstrom Law to set up a consultation if you are interested in learning more about the right way to get paid to take care of your loved one.

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