How to Become a Paid Caregiver for a Family Member

Michele Meleen
Caregiver for a Family Member

Caring for a family member is not always possible because it can conflict with paid job opportunities. However, there are a few ways you can get paid to care for a loved one in his or her home so you can fulfill your family and financial obligations at the same time.

Look for State Resources

Each state and every family caregiver program has specific eligibility requirements that may be different from another. Start with a search tool like the one from Paying for Senior Care to begin a broad search of programs you might qualify for in your area. To use the search tool you'll need information about the person you hope to care for including his or her annual income and assets value. You can also contact your local Agency on Aging for more information and help.

Evaluate the Insurance Plan

Some insurance plans allow individuals the freedom to manage their own care. Have your loved one contact the insurance company to find out if there are options available to hire family caregivers. In many cases caregivers cannot live in the same home as the person they will care for and can only work for their family member on a short-term basis. Names for these specific programs include:

  • Consumer Directed Care
  • Participant Directed Care
  • Self-Directed Care
  • In-Home Supportive Services

Medicaid

Anyone who qualifies financially to receive Medicaid and is signed up for a plan can choose to participate in the Self-Directed Services. One of the many choices individuals can make is who provides their care. Specific regulations vary by state, but each Medicaid customer who chooses this route will have a support counselor to help make decisions and understand the process. Family caregivers are paid a standard rate of ten to twenty dollars per hour. There are four basic programs through Medicaid and at least one of them is available in every state. Individuals need to check with their local Medicaid office to check eligibility and start the process.

Find Programs for Specific Populations

Organizations that help specific populations sometimes offer programs that allow family members to become caregivers. If your loved one is a military veteran, was a victim of a specific incident, suffers from a certain illness, or fits into another small category of people, you can check with charities and organizations that work with that population.

VA Family Caregiver Program

Military personnel who suffered a qualifying injury anytime after September 11, 2001 can benefit from the VA Family Caregiver Program. Eligible family caregivers include parents, spouses, and extended family members, but cannot be a person who provides financial support. Veterans can contact their local Veterans Affairs office for more information and must be enrolled in the VA healthcare program. Caregivers earn a monthly stipend in addition to other services like access to health insurance, caregiver training, and counseling services.

Apply for a Program

Once you've found a program that matches your loved one's circumstances, the person will need to apply. The process can be confusing and lengthy, so enlist the help of a professional whenever possible. If you will be paid directly by the insurance company or organization, you will probably need to provide personal information as you would for any other job.

Sign a Family Contract

Whether you consult a lawyer or create your own contract, this step is an important way to keep things professional. Work together with the person you'll be caring for to spell out all the details so you can avoid any confusion or conflict down the road. Include specific information such as:

  • Start and end dates
  • Days and hours you will work
  • Duties
  • Restrictions
  • Wages and payment schedule

Start Providing Services

As soon as you are approved as a family caregiver, set up a work schedule that meets your loved one's needs. Create a calendar with days, times, and duties that you each have a copy of. As you work with your family member, be prepared to adjust your services as needed.

Caring Is Your Job

No one cares for you quite like your family. As relatives it is your duty to love and help each other in times of need, but it can also become your paid job. When you become a caregiver for a family member, you give them the help they need in a comfortable setting without sacrificing your own life and assets.

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How to Become a Paid Caregiver for a Family Member