Social Security doesn’t usually directly pay individuals to serve as caregivers for their elderly parents. However, it does pay benefits to the elderly person themselves, and those benefits can be used as the senior wishes, including to pay for caregivers. Other programs may offer direct financial support to family caregivers, such as the Medicaid Self-Directed Care waiver and the Veteran-Directed Home and Community-Based Services Program.

The eligibility criteria for these family caregiver programs vary from state to state. Seniors are expected to undergo a needs assessment and meet income and asset criteria. Those who have income exceeding the limits for Medicaid may be able to participate in a spend-down program to reach the qualification criteria.

Some Caregivers May Qualify for Social Security in Their Own Right

In some cases, family caregivers may qualify for Social Security income themselves. However, this is usually only the case if the caregiver is looking after a close relative who has a serious medical condition, such as Parkinson’s disease or cancer. Most instances of adults looking after elderly parents would be covered by a different self-directed care program.

Many States Require Caregivers to Undergo Training

Many states require anyone who is going to be paid to serve as a caregiver, including relatives, to undergo training before they can be paid for the support they’re providing via Medicaid or other similar programs. Even in states where this isn’t the case, taking a training course could be beneficial because it gives caregivers confidence that they can deal with any emergency situations that might arise. Many support organizations work with family caregivers to help them navigate the practical, financial and emotional challenges they face.