No caregiver will ever tell you that they are in it for the money, but it sure would be nice to get some relief from the financial strain that caring for a family member puts on an individual. One way to do so is with Medicaid’s Cash & Counseling program. This program gives disabled people and older adults the opportunity to manage a flexible budget and choose from a variety of goods and services. Direct payments can be used to hire personal care workers, buy items, and make home modifications, for as long as the person is providing care. Participants can decide how to manage their budgets by themselves, or with the assistance of an appointed representative. Cash & Counseling is available in New Jersey, Florida, Arkansas, Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. Your state may have a similar program under a different name. Contact your local Medicaid office for further details.
In order to be eligible for Cash & Counseling, participants have to be 65 years old or disabled, require skilled nursing, have serious mental impairments, or require assistance performing daily activities, and be limited to a $2,000 monthly income and $2,000 in countable resources. These requisites are not written in stone and may vary regionally. The first step toward enrolling in this program is completing a Medicaid application with your state or county Medicaid office. Upon being accepted by Medicaid, you can then proceed to applying for a specific Medicaid waiver allowing for Cash and Counseling. If you’re already receiving Medicaid benefits, you may have to wait from two to four months before you may be able to start getting payments, and an extra 45 to 90 days if you’re not receiving Medicaid benefits. Additionally, there may be waiting lists.
Part of this processing time is devoted to an in-home evaluation of the potential participant’s needs, and interviewing caregivers and physicians. The payments are calculated based on the number of monthly care hours and the cost of care for your particular geographic location. The budget is subject to changes depending on the needs of the care recipient. This person is deemed as an ‘employer,’ and as such, is able to ‘hire’ their own family members, including adult children, friends, and in some states their spouses too. Because spouses are usually not allowed to be hired as caregivers, some couples have actually divorced so as to be able to care for each other. Also, in some states the person who will be providing care has to become a registered and licensed care provider.
Cash & Counseling is not the only way to get paid for being a caregiver. There is also Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. SSI pays benefits to disabled adults and children with limited income, as well as people 65 years old and older without disabilities and who meet the financial limits. To apply for an adult with disability fill out an online disability report and make an appointment with a Social Security representative. For a child with a disability, fill out an online child disability report and contact Social Security to continue the application process. For a person 65 years old or older, call 1-800-772-1213 and make an appointment at your local Social Security office.
A third alternative is the Family Caregiver Support Program
, which provides information to caregivers about available services and how to access them, individual counseling, support group organization, caregiver training, respite care, and supplemental services on a limited basis. Adult family members or other informal caregivers 18 and older who provide care to individuals 60 and older; adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 and older who provide care to individuals of any age with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders; grandparents and other relatives (not parents) 55 and older who provide care to children under 18; and grandparents and other relatives (not parents) 55 and older who provide care to adults age 18-59 with disabilities are all eligible for this program.
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