Can I get paid to be a caregiver for my wife?

6 answers | Last updated: May 13, 2015
A fellow caregiver asked...

My wife, age 50, is on Medicare she gets a disability check.  She needs total care.  I do everything - the cooking, cleaning, all of it.  Is there any way that I can get paid for caring for her?  I took early retirement so that we'd have prescription coverage - one perscription alone is 358.49. Thank you for your time.

Expert Answers

It's possible, depending on the total amount of your wife's disability benefit plus your retirement income, and on the amount of your assets other than the value of your home. If your joint income and assets are low enough, your wife might qualify for a state-run program where you live, which can provide some payment directly to your wife for care in the home. She can then use this money to pay you. Even if your wife qualifies for such a program, the payments are not great -- but they can certainly help.

These payments work through a state program usually run through your state's Medicaid program. It's called Cash and Counseling or something similar (the names are different in some states). If your wife qualifies for home care under Medicaid, Medicaid would normally provide that care through a certified home care agency. But this special program directly pays the person needing care the same amount Medicaid would pay an aide from a home care agency. If she qualified, your wife could spend these funds on you or anyone else she chooses to take care of her. She can also use some of the money to make home improvements for safety or comfort, or to buy personal care items. Some states with these programs offer it only to people who qualify for Medicaid under the state's rules. Other states allow people into the program even if they have slightly too much in income or assets to qualify for Medicaid.

To learn more about these cash assistance programs -- not all states have them -- go to the page on this site called How to Get Paid for Being Your Parent's Caregiver. You can help your wife apply for Cash and Counseling or similar state cash assistance program, if your state has one, at a local Medicaid office. To find the local Medicaid office near you, contact the Eldercare Locator by phone toll-free at 800-677-1116, or online you can go to any search engine and type in "Medicaid" and the name of your state.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Wife is 77 years old - I am 76- can I get paid as a caregiver for her

Cmacp answered...

State Medicaid are the programs that pay for Care Giving. Unless your spouse qualifies for Medicaid under a particular Disability Waiver allowed by your State's Medicaid, she and you must qualify under Federal poverty income limits. These are VERY low. My husband has a TBI and is on full SS Disability, but our State does not provide Medicaid for brain injuries. In our State, he has to qualify under the poverty income limits. His $946 month SSDI check will always put him over the limit and keep him ineligible. Same with our combined income as a couple. I took early SS to make ends meet financially. He DID qualify for our State Medicaid program CAPS, but we had to pay the first $720 each month, - almost all of his monthly check. Plus, the paperwork and receipts were a terrible burden.

In our State, spouses are not paid to provide care unless they have passed State certification. Your new income, - whether from being a Care Giver, or working PT out of the home - will be added in and will increase your monthly CAPS deductible costs. After 3 yrs of trying, searching, and applying for every Medicaid program I could find, I've given up on getting help from State programs. I am now working PT caring for a Disabled child. I can and am getting paid for caring for someone else, but not my husband. The mother pays $1,800 each month to get the CAPS services for her daughter! Even with the mother's high salary as a supervising RN, this is a crippling sum to pay each month. In conclusion, I have found that the States have been dismantling the Medicaid programs due to the economy. I have not found the help I had hoped for through the State Medicaid programs. The Medicaid programs change almost weekly. October 2009 when my husband was re-hospitalized, I was applying for State Medicaid Long Term Care. In the middle of my application process, our State eliminated Intermediate level nursing home care. Now only the acutely ill will get LTC. Other States like Florida, are limiting their programs to one or two hundred a year. I hate to be the barer of bad news, but Medicaid help is being dismantled.

Motonay17 answered...

Im 27 my father had a stroke sept 09 and has apahisa (speech disorder) and cant walk, talk, or stand on his own. My mother is his 24/7 caregiver. I have 3 sisters who help out as much as we can. My mother too is wondering how she can get goverment help bc she can only work when myself or one of my sisters can look after my father. Im a hairdress and I meet alot of clients. Today actually one of my clients told me about a web site to help out with medication help. This isnt a answer to your question but help for your medication bill. The web site is if you live in FL hope this helps out anyone. God Bless

A fellow caregiver answered...

Taxes keep going up, the government is less and less helpful

Gnassar answered...

I am my wife's caregiver, cooking, cleaning, shopping, the whole thing we call life. I work full time on top of that, if she did not have medicare we would be in world of hurt. That pay her medical expences. By the way, she has hydrocephalus. She has had a total of 24 surgeries from birth till now at age 36. She is a true inspiration to everyone who knows her, never giving up. I think the body pain and headaches are the worst part. She used to be on so many meds to keep the pain at bay, she developed a resistance to them and was in agony. We dumped the meds except for topamax, and are now seeing a chiropractor and physical therapist. She is nearly pain free now. The chiropractor is the key, the adjustments keep her spinal fluid from pushing her bones out of wack, this keeps the spinal fluid flowing away from her brain, less pressure means less headaches and less nerve pain. She can now walk again, talks to the neighbors again, trust me that's a lot. I am writing this because I know, someone out there has hydrocephalus, or knows someone who has it. I know it is a painful road to travel, but God loves you and so do I. Hang in there.