If you are the primary caregiver for a loved one, there may be a way for you or your loved one to receive financial assistance.

You might qualify to be a paid caregiver under your loved one's insurance, Medicare or Medicaid program.

This might seem like an uncomfortable idea at first. Naturally, you are taking care of someone you love and do not expect payment. Most caregivers in the United States, in fact, are unpaid caregivers, usually a family member or close friend. The total value of unpaid caregivers in the country is estimated at 522 billion dollars.

However, there are many good and valid reasons to seek out payment if possible. Let's consider just a few of them:

  • Your loved one worked most of their life and paid into the system.
  • You can't pursue employment if you are staying at home with a loved one.
  • Instead of getting a job to pay for someone else to take care of your loved one, you could continue to take care of them, because you would be getting paid for at least some of the care you provide.
  • Home- and community- based care, as opposed to institutional care, is preferred by patients and actually costs the system less.

So there is absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. Your work and dedication is extremely valuable, and you deserve to earn a living like everyone else.

What options do you have? It all depends on what benefits your loved one is entitled to. This usually comes from one or more of the following three sources:

  1. Long-term care insurance policy
  2. Medicare
  3. Medicaid

The most useful of these when it comes to home care are long-term care insurance policies or Medicaid. Medicare covers home care costs in more limited scenarios.

If your loved one has a long-term care policy through their previous employment, this could help substantially and without having to worry about Medicaid or Medicare eligibility, which can become tricky.

If your loved one uses Medicaid and they require caregiver services, they may seek out a "home and community-based waiver program." These programs fund caregiver services for people at risk of having to enter a nursing home. Under some of these programs, certain family members may act as paid caregivers.

It is worth investigating. Ask your insurance company, your local Medicaid office or an elder care lawyer to find out what assistance you qualify for.

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