Are you considering leaving your job or other commitments in order to provide ongoing care for an aging or disabled relative? If so, you may be wondering whether you can be paid as a family caregiver. After all, making this commitment may represent a loss of income for your family, or a big out-of-pocket expense if you need to hire someone else to take care of your household duties while you are away. Unfortunately, the answer to this question depends on the state you live in. Consulting an elder law attorney about your options is a great way to learn more about the specific rules in your state.
Most states depend on Medicaid funding to run their home care programs. If a state program uses either federal Medicaid funding or a Medicaid “waiver”, then in general only family members who are not legally responsible for supporting a patient can be paid. What this means is that your spouse, or your parent, if you are a minor child, cannot be paid as a family caregiver. Other family members might be able to be paid depending on the circumstances, in some states, while in other states there is a general prohibition.
There are two types of home care, home care agencies and personal care assistants. If your state has a home care agency program, you generally cannot choose your caregiver, although some states permit a home care agency to hire a patient’s relative or friend if adequate care cannot be found in his or her area. This person would have to become an employee of the agency. Other states have personal care assistant programs, which are considered “consumer-directed” with the patient being the employer, and the caregiver being an employee.
Some states have both types of programs and use the latter if a patient lives in an area where they cannot find help through a regular agency. Finally, 12 out of 50 states permit anyone to use this latter option and pay a family member as a caregiver. The dozen states in this group include Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
To learn more about what is available in Florida for caregiver assistance, please reach out to our office to schedule an appointment.