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Millions of people are in the role of a part or full-time caregiver in the U.S to family members who have a serious illness or disability. This is a very challenging and demanding role that needs to be recognized and appreciated.
The National Family Caregivers Association started celebrating the family caregiver role in November 1994 to raise awareness. President Clinton signed the first proclamation in 1994 in appreciation of family caregivers. Regardless of party affiliation, every President since then has also signed one.
Can Family Caregivers be Paid?
Full-time caregivers often ask if they can get paid to take care of a loved one. Receiving compensation for taking care of a loved one depends on the disability, the state you live in and the circumstances.
In the US there is a great need for financial assistance for the caregiver because the majority of long-term care is often provided by a family member who is not paid. Many people are meeting this caregiving need single-handedly, especially with the country's aging population. In 2000, the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) was enacted by the federal government to honor and support these family members.
Many states now offer some sort of caregiver support, but they vary drastically from one state to another and even within different jurisdictions in the same state. Furthermore, the states that do offer pay don't do so on a consistent basis.
How Can I be Paid as a Caregiver?
It is increasingly popular for the loved one being taken care of to pay the caregiver directly. If you chose this option, be sure you have a caregiver contract, which will show the caregiver is not getting a monetary give but is being paid for a service. The Medicaid program can disqualify a caregiver if there has been a history of cash gifts. As the caregiver, you also need to pay taxes on the earnings and the loved one must list the payment on their tax returns.
Also take a close look at the long-term care insurance policy of your loved one. There are plans that pay cash to the policyholder to spend on caregiving help monthly. But these policies are very expensive and not very common, so if your loved one has one, take advantage of it.
If you don't qualify for direct financial assistance, you might be able to claim your loved one as a dependent on your tax returns. They don't have to physically live in the same house as long as you provide more than 50% of their basic living costs.
Finally, in some cases, you could deduct certain medical expenses.
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