Learn how family caregivers can get paid to provide care for their loved ones.

Compensation for Family Caregivers

by Marcia Howland, Ph. D.

Published July 19th, 2017

Whether by force or by choice, caregivers feel some obligation to care for a family member who is unable to provide for their own care. Did you know you can get paid for doing it?

One way that caregivers can be compensated for care is by a local medical and domestic service provider. They all charge a fee for a variety of services for a certain time period. Some of them will pay a family caregiver for a “shift” of caregiving thereby reducing the cost. One advantage of this plan is to receive professional care from the provider but maintains the home caregiver relationship of family. It also gives the caregiver some time off when the service staff person is doing the care.

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Another way is to create a personal agreement between the adult being cared for and the family caregiver. The key is to understand the difference between what constitutes a ”gift” or a “service contract.”

For example, a parent might need 24-hour care in a facility, and the family caregiver, her daugher, has spent 6 years taking care of her mother. If the caregiver receives money, it may be considered a “gift” by the state subject to what is allowable per year under tax laws. This type of gift may be useful when a loved one is attempting to qualify for Medicaid coverage, as some states cap assets for Medicaid recipients at $2,000.00. Technically, without a written agreement, the state considers payment a “gift.”

Third, pay yourself forward. Should caregiving become long term (beyond two years) take some personal time. Take short breaks daily and weekly. At least once a year, take a full week of vacation. Caregivers tend to penalize themselves because:

  1. It is inconvenient

  2. It is difficult to find short-term caregivers for home care

  3. Medical and domestic services are ordinarily hourly, thus expensive

  4. Integrity of visiting caregivers

  5. Another caregiver “can’t do it like I do it.”

Save forward some time for yourself.

Lastly, compensation can be earned through a Personal Services Contract between the caregiver and the care receiver. This type of arrangement must:

  • Be written prior to personal care services

  • Detail explicitly what is included and excluded for compensation (non-medical care only, cooking, light housekeeping, help with daily activities)

  • Be signed by both parties (or family/friend who has durable power of attorney)

  • Have all signatures notarized at time of signing

  • Have a contract date (including the start date and ending date, if that can be known).

  • Charge at comparable rate in community (usually weekly)

An accurate log of services provided must be maintained. In the case of applying for Medicaid, this log can help document financial receipt. A sample of a Personal Care Agreement (PDF) is available from K. Gabriel Heiser at Aging Care.

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About Marcia Howland

Dr. Marcia Howland shares how caregivers can get paid for providing care for their loved ones.

Marcia Howland, Ph. D.

Spiritual Outreach Counselor at Crossroads Hospice Charitable Foundation

Dr. Howland has been an active board certified clinical hospice chaplain for 15 years and is a renowned public speaker. She has dedicated her career to being an educator and resource person for spiritual care, caregiver support, end-of-life issues and bereavement. She is a valued member of the writing team at Crossroads Hospice Charitable Foundation.

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