Taking care of an elderly, sick, or disabled family member can be a full-time job. Not only do you spend time ensuring that your loved one’s needs are met, you may have to pay out of pocket for medical supplies, groceries, and sanitary equipment. Depending on your personal circumstances, you may not need to bear these costs yourself, as California provides limited assistance to resident caregivers. If you meet the right criteria, you could receive compensation, reimbursement, and even tax breaks for the time you spend looking after your family.
California Family Caregivers
Almost everyone reaches a point in their life when they are reliant on friends or family for assistance. People often become full-time caregivers to provide for the basic needs of someone who:
- Has a chronic, physical, or mental disability that prevents them from finding employment or living independently
- Is diagnosed with a severe medical condition and is undergoing intensive treatment
- Is elderly and unable to provide for themself
California, unlike other states, does not discriminate about who can act as a caregiver. You can support someone and be eligible for compensation as a:
- Niece or nephew
However, your relationship with an in-need person determines which state and federal programs you can receive assistance from.
The Financial Costs of Caregiving
When you take care of a loved one, you are not only expressing a deep sense of commitment toward their health and well-being but making many personal sacrifices, as well. Even people who have substantial resources at their disposal can be physically, emotionally, and financially exhausted by the costs of long-term, in-home care.
Often, these costs fall to family members and friends who may have to pay out of pocket for:
- Groceries, including a loved one’s physician-recommended dietary needs and supplements
- Medical equipment such as a replacement wheelchair or oxygen canisters
- Sanitary supplies, including face masks, rubber gloves, and alcohol wipes
People often do not realize or understand how expensive care can be. The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. estimates that the average cost of caring for an elder family member with long-term needs is in excess of $140,000, making assistance a critical necessity for most families.
California Caregiver Options for Compensation
California and the federal government both recognize that caretaking is an expensive undertaking. As such, caregivers are entitled to receive financial benefits and assistance if they meet certain criteria.
California caregivers can seek compensation through programs such as:
- Medi-Cal In-Home Supportive Services. Also known as IHSS, Medi-Cal allows the loved ones of Medicaid recipients—including siblings, adult children, and even friends—to draw benefits after they have registered as a caretaker. However, Medi-Cal has strict income limits for caregiver beneficiaries and may not be an option for people who work other jobs or possess valuable assets.
- Veteran’s Aid & Attendance Pension. This is available to living, war-time veterans and their spouses. While a spouse cannot be paid for caregiving, adult children and other relatives may be able to receive compensation. Although the United States Department of Veterans affairs (VA) restricts benefits to veterans earning a certain amount per year, an estate planning attorney may be able to find exemptions to help you qualify for the Veteran’s Aid & Attendance Pension.
- California’s Paid Family Leave Act. This act allows the loved ones of an in-need person to take time away from their job to provide for a family member. People who qualify for compensation under the act can take time away from work while receiving a percentage of their usual salary. However, California only allows caregivers related by blood or marriage to apply for relief under the Paid Family Leave Act.
People who have long-term care insurance may also receive benefits from their policy.
Other Alternatives for Caregivers
While California and the federal government provide options for caregivers to receive compensation, meeting the criteria for different aid programs can be difficult—especially if you continue to work a full-time job or own valuable assets such as a prosperous stock portfolio, a small business, or commercial real estate.
If the government cannot provide enough support, you may be able to claim the costs of caregiving on your tax returns. You can:
- Claim an elderly parent or disabled beneficiary as a dependent
- Deduct immediate out-of-pocket, care-related expenses
- Deduct the cost of medical procedures and other expenses paid on behalf of a dependent relative
- Withdraw funds from an employer-sponsored care savings account
Contact Us Today
Taking care of a loved one is often expensive and challenging. While few people can qualify for every available aid program, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you identify the options that work best for your financial position and long-term plans. The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. has spent years assisting Californians find the right solution for their families.
To find out how we can help you, send us a message online today to schedule your initial consultation.