Have you beentaking care of your elderly parent for the past two years? Did you know that you can get paid for doing this and not harm your parent’s eligibility to qualify for Medicaid (Title 19)?
Perhaps you have been thinking that it is in the best interest of your parent to preserve his/her assets rather than for you to get paid to take care of your parent. In some cases, that is correct. In other situations, however, having a loved one pay you for their care can actually benefit you and your loved one both.
If your parent’s health deteriorates to a point where he will eventually need to be in a nursing home, he will need to spend down all of his assets to pay for the nursing home until he reaches $1,600 before he will be eligible for Medicaid assistance in Connecticut. In the case of married couples, in most cases, all assets can be protected without having to spend down.
The State of Connecticut recognizes that, in many cases, a child caregiver quits her job to care for an aging parent. The work done by the caregiver is actually helpful to the state because the state is not having to pay for Medicaid expenses when the aging parent is being taken care of at home, rather than in a nursing home. The state acknowledges that this care has a financial value and allows for just compensation.
Connecticut law provides for a family member to get paid for taking care of an elderly parent. A legal document, called a Caregiver Contract, is signed by the caregiver and the elderly person. The caregiver could get paid an hourly wage for such services. With a proper Caregiver Contract in place, an individual can pay their caregiver and every penny spent will count toward their “Medicaid spend down” once they apply for benefits.
It is extremely important to have a Caregiver Contract that complies with the state’s Medicaid laws. Otherwise, the payments made to an individual without a Caregiver Contract will be considered a “gift” or a “transfer of assets” for Medicaid eligibility purposes and the state will impose penalties which can result in ineligibility.
Connecticut has specific requirements for personal care contracts. Generally speaking, the state requires a written agreement, signed and dated on or before the date the services are to begin, specifying the services that are to be provided and the rates that are to be paid (which must be fair market value).
If you and your parent decide to enter into this legally binding agreement, it is important to note that you keep accurate records of time spent on caregiving and any reimbursements for any out-of-pocket expenses, such as for mileage, made on behalf of your parent.
Over time, a substantial amount of your parent’s assets can be protected if the Caregiver Contract is structured properly. That is why it is important to seek the advice of an experienced elder law attorney who is able to help you provide for the best care for your parent, while also not shortchanging you for the work you do on behalf of your parent.
Attorney Daniel O. Tully is a partner in the law firm of Kilbourne & Tully, P.C., members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Inc., with offices at 120 Laurel St., Bristol. (860) 583-1341 or ktelderlaw. com.