Reducing Caregiver Stress by Addressing Financial Options

Kimberly Whiter

Reducing Caregiver Stress by Addressing Financial Options

Kimberly Whiter

Caregiver financial burden sneaks up on you. You write that first check for a loved one to cover their costs of care. The first check isn’t so bad. You have money in your bank account to cover it. There is even enough money to cover the next payment. But then you realize that these checks to pay for care don’t necessarily affect the amount of time that care is provided to your loved one. There also comes a time when you realize that someone’s care needs are long-term with an unknown end date. You want the best possible care for your loved one, so you continue to pay out-of-pocket for their appointments, medications, equipment, and more. At this point, you may be thinking, “How do other people pay for care expenses?”

The answer is: The same as you; out-of-pocket.

The leadership team at Elder Care Solutions all got to this point in their own caregiving journeys and found little to no external financial guidance and assistance for their rising care costs. Insurance professionals focused only on selling insurance. Lawyers practiced law. Certified financial planners handled stocks and investments. Social workers talked about the care needed but not how to pay for it. Certified public accountants did taxes. While the intentions of these professionals was good, their experiences and expertise were of little help. Google searches uncovered some resources, but navigating these financial options alone, on top of caregiving duties, was difficult.

Whether you’re writing that first check or at the point of experiencing caregiver financial stress, you need exactly what we needed: Options. You need workable choices so you can decide what the best decisions are based on your unique situation. And you need to see all your options, not just those that one professional might show you.

In addition to the out-of-pocket cash demands, family caregivers are spending real time and energy carrying out all of the physical and emotional demands caregiving requires. At this time, the majority of family caregivers are unpaid. Based on our own experiences, Elder Care Solutions wants to help other family caregivers consider some sources for accessing money. Our options below do not exhaust every possibility, but they do indicate just how varied these financial solutions may be.

Accessing Care Funding Through Medicaid

  1. Every state offers some kind of consumer-directed care assistance through Medicaid, so this is worth exploring.
  2. Medicaid waivers that can pay directly for care are available in some states.
  3. In some states, Medicaid covers the cost of adult foster care, also referred to as adult day services, that can be of tremendous help in providing care for seniors and respite for family caregivers.
  4. While not a direct cash payment, many states allow through Medicaid the aging parent's residence to be transferred to an "adult caregiving child."

Accessing Care Funding Through Veteran’s Benefits

  1. Veteran’s Affairs has a special post-9/11 program which offers qualified applicants a variety of financial help.
  2. Other veteran benefits may apply under a variety of mental health conditions and respite care, the latter of which is specifically designed to help family caregivers.
  3. In the case of a veteran homeowner, sometimes refinancing the home mortgage can produce needed cash.
  4. The Veteran-Directed Care program, not available in all states, gives a successful applicant a flexible monthly budget for paying for care. 
  5. The VA's Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, or known informally as the Family Caregiver Program, addresses the caregiving needs of veterans critically injured in the line of duty after September 11, 2001. It pays cash and other non-monetary benefits. This program will naturally be expanding as potential recipients age.

Additional Ways to Access Care Funding and Supports

  1. Income tax credits up to 30% of expenditures may be available under the IRS's Credit for Caring Act.
  2. Local property tax credits may apply.
  3. An elderly loved one may own assets that can be converted to cash by a family member with a power of attorney.
  4. An aging parent may be able to secure a Home Equity Line of Credit loan that, in effect, puts a first or second mortgage on the residence and opens a credit line that counts as neither income nor asset under any eligibility requirements.
  5. A credit sale of a residence or other property at fair market price can produce a qualifying income stream against which care costs can be assessed. If done correctly, this allows great flexibility in achieving Medicaid eligibility.
  6. Local nonprofit or community agencies may help with food, transportation, monitoring, and other support services.
  7. Religious organizations may have local programs that can help with in-kind contributions.

An additional and lesser-known opportunity is receiving pay for your caregiving role. Caregiving.com’s caregiver salary calculator helps family caregivers understand the monetary value of their care work. Family caregivers are often so used to not getting paid that they feel guilty at the thought of earning money for their care role. This tool aims to empower family caregivers. The time is now to provide unpaid caregivers with the financial relief they desperately need. Here are some other specific ways to get paid for being a family caregiver. 

How to Get Paid for Family Caregiving

  1. Some Medicaid-funded programs may be available that can be used to pay family caregivers.
  2. Long-term care (LTC) insurance policies may allow, under certain conditions, payments to family caregivers.
  3. Most LTC insurance policies will permit the family member who has earned certain credentials to be paid at market rates. 
  4. The VA has a pension benefit for wartime veterans under which family caregivers can be paid.
  5. The VA's Housebound Pension Benefit can pay any family caregiver except the spouse. This is a cash benefit.

We hope this has provided an overview of some of your options for accessing funds to pay for care needs. We know that finances are a major cause of caregiver stress. Elder Care Solutions, in partnership with Caregiving.com, aims to empower families with solution-oriented choices for moving forward.



About the Contributor

Kimberly Whiter is CEO for Elder Care Solutions. She has had a varied career including practicing as a medical laboratory scientist, serving as an administrative leader in higher education, and finally joining Elder Care Solutions as Cofounder and CEO. She brings expertise in inter-professional and interdisciplinary work, providing key perspective for coordinating Elder Care Solution's work among the variety of professionals involved in elder care decisions. 

After experiencing caregiving first-hand, she has successfully positioned Elder Care Solutions to provide maximum benefit to family caregivers. Her work focuses on empowering caregivers and seniors with authority, confidence, and peace of mind through solutions for overcoming the financial challenges with long-term care. Elder Care Solutions is unique in that its sole focus is providing a bird's-eye view of how long-term care costs can be mitigated.

Like this article? Share on social