Family caregivers play an important role in our nation’s long-term care services and support system, yet many are in financial distress, some forced to leave their jobs or cut back on hours to support an aging loved one at home. According to a National Center on Caregiving and AARP (2015) report; Approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to a family member in the last 12 months. This unpaid care would have an economic service value of 470 billion. On April 19, 2016, President Obama signed the Older Americans Act (OAA) Reauthorization Act of 2016 into law to further improve access and quality of comprehensive services to older adults. Eligible Program Participants Include:
- Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 and older providing care to individuals 60 years of age and older
- Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 and older providing care to individuals of any age with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders
- Older relatives (not parents) age 55 and older providing care to children under the age of 18
- Older relatives, including parents, age 55 and older, providing care to adults ages 18-59 with disabilities
The enrollment process varies by state or program type. Here are 4 primary options to get paid as a family caregiver:
- Medicaid – Medicaid’s program began as “cash and counseling,” but is now often called “self-directed,” “consumer-directed,” or “participant-directed” care. Participants are granted a certain amount of control on how their care budget can be spent. This allows beneficiaries to choose, train and manage the personal care assistant of their choosing, including a family member or friend. 12 states allow spouses to be paid with this option. The money can also be used to purchase items related to their activities of daily living; a cleaning service, meal preparation, laundry service, medical alert service and transportation for medical appointments are also acceptable services. Medicaid is available only to low-income seniors, and each state has different eligibility requirements.
- Non-Medicaid (Special State Programs) – Non-Medicaid programs also allow for self-directed care with less financial requirements. Some programs will provide stipends, reimburse caregivers for supplies, offer training, and provide respite care. To find out if there are any special programs that your loved one may qualify for, contact your state Medicaid Agency or check with your local Area Agency on Aging.
- Life Insurance/Long-term Care Insurance – Some policies allow individuals to be paid to care for a family member or to become certified and qualify as a professional caregiver. Depending on the policy, payouts can be used to pay for services at home, adult day care, an assisted living facility or in a nursing home community. Consult with your insurance agent regarding policy details.
- Veteran Directed Care – Veterans can participate in a Cash and Counseling program specifically for veterans. If a veteran or surviving spouse of a veteran also qualifies for Aid and Attendance benefit, they can receive a supplement to their pension to help pay for a family caregiver. Note: Veterans cannot receive both of these benefits at the same time.
Tax Benefits – If you’re caring for a relative and provide for more than half of their basic living expenses, you may be able to claim them as a dependent on your taxes. You may also be able to deduct their medical expenses even if you can’t claim them as dependents. Visit the IRS website or call the IRS help-line at 800-829-1040 for more information.
Financial Resources in Florida
The Florida Department of Children and Families takes applications and determines who is eligible for Medicaid, Medicaid Waiver programs, and Optional State Supplementation (OSS). Call the toll-free number (866) 762-2237 or visit MyFlorida.com/accessflorida.
Florida Non-Medicaid programs with Consumer Direction:
Florida Medicaid programs with Consumer Direction:
- Florida Statewide Managed Long-Term Care
- The CARES Program (Comprehensive Assessment and Review for Long Term Care)
The SHINE Program (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) is for seniors and people with disabilities and provides counseling on Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care insurance, prescription assistance programs, and other health insurance issues. To learn more call the Florida Department of Elder Affairs toll-free number (800) 963-5337 or TDD (800) 955-8771, or visit FloridaShine.org.
The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs provides information and services and operates an assisted living facility and nursing homes. Call them at (727) 518-3202 or visit FloridaVets.org.
Additional Support Resources:
- Eldercare Locator
- Benefits Checkup
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Meals on Wheels
- National Council on Aging
Interested in a more affordable private care solution? Check out our community of professional caregivers who provide personal care and support in an intimate residential setting.