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Are You Eligible for Payment for Family Caregiving?

Over 70 million people provide home caregiving for a family member or close friend. These people are usually not health care professionals, and they often have full-time jobs and family obligations as well. But caring for an elderly person can be a full-time job in itself—and many have to quit their jobs to provide elderly loved ones the care they need. Even so, this type of caregiving isn’t paid—and this can put caregivers in dire financial straits.

However, it’s possible you may be eligible for a small but regular payment for your caregiving activities.  There are a variety of ways to get payment—and they’re worth looking into, especially if you’ve had to leave your job to provide care.


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Medicaid Cash and Counseling Program*  

Some low-income seniors are eligible for direct payments that go to caregivers on a needs-based basis. If the person you’re caring for is eligible for Medicaid, you may be able to collect payment under Medicaid’s Cash and Counseling program if your state offers it.

The program is available in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. It may be listed under a different name under your state; check the website to see what’s available in your area.

Long-term care insurance

Long-term care insurance isn’t very common among senior populations, even though there’s a need for it. Still, if your loved one has a policy with in-home care coverage, it may be possible for you to receive payment from the policy. If the person you’re caring for hasn’t yet filed a claim for payment, you can help them do so. If they can get benefits for monthly in-home care from the insurer, they can then pay you from those payments.

Some long-term care insurance policies, however, require that payment be given only to in-home care aides with state certification. If that’s the case, it may be possible for you to earn that certification yourself. The National Family Caregivers’ Association and the Family Caregiver Alliance** may have further information about the requirements in your state.

Directly through Medicaid

Even if your state doesn’t have a Cash and Counseling program, you may be able to get payment through Medicaid if the person you’re caring for is eligible. Medicaid offers coverage for at-home caregiving activities including cleaning assistance, laundry, shopping, and transportation. If the person you are caring for has not applied for Medicaid, you can help them apply—and contact the Medicaid Eldercare Locator (800-677-1116) to find out what it takes to receive payment for elder care you’re already giving.

Contact the Health and Human Services offices in your area

There are other programs for low-income seniors administered on a state-by-state level, so if your state has no Cash for Counseling program or your loved one doesn’t qualify for Medicaid, it’s still possible you could receive payment under one of these state-specific programs. Some offer benefits for in-home care for the person of your loved one’s choosing—so it’s possible you could qualify.

In-home care isn’t easy—especially if you had to quit your job to provide full-time care. There are some situations where you can earn payment for in-home care, however. Check with your state’s Medicaid offices, Health and Human Services, and your loved one’s long-term care policy if there is one. Help your loved one apply to the appropriate social services if this has not been done already—and look into low-cost certification for yourself at local community colleges if necessary. You owe it to yourself to do anything you can to get payment for the caregiving you provide.