Does an adult sibling have a financial responsibility for another adult sibling?

A fellow caregiver asked...

does an adult sibling have financial responsibility for another adult sibling? My brother is 53 and has been diagnosed with bi-polar, schizophrenia, and a host of many other illnesses and can no longer work - will more than likely have to go on permanent disability. Has no savings, no checking and a small 401K. The doctor says he cannot live alone and must be in a facility to moniter his care, give him his meds, etc. He can use his 401K initially, but will have no health coverage and the money will run out probably in less than a year. He lives in Florida and has so for over 30 years. Who pays for the assisted living and medical care. I have not money, and am maxed out on my HELOC (son in college) Thank you

Expert Answer

Barbara Steinberg is the CEO and founder of BLS Eldercare Financial Solutions, which specializes in helping families pay for long-term care for their loved ones. A registered financial gerontologist, she speaks regularly on the topic of paying for long-term care and is a financial expert for Caring.com.

The answer to your first question is no, an adult sibling does not have financial responsibility for another adult sibling. Your brother needs to apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If he is eligible, he may get one or the other or both. If he gets disability, he will be eligible for Medicare after 2 years from the start of his disability plus a 5 month waiting period. If he gets SSI, he is immediately eligible for Medicaid. In Florida, there are programs that pay for people with chronic mental illness and low income to live in assisted living facilities. Severe mentally ill residents of Florida receive personal services from the facility and may also receive mental health services from a community mental health center. Medicaid covers the cost of these services either through a home and community-based services waiver or the Medicaid Assistive Care Services program. These programs are for Florida residents with low income. To find out more about these programs, contact the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration. To apply for Medicaid, contact your city or county district office of the Department of Children and Families. There is one caveat. The Miami Herald has recently published a series of articles uncovering deplorable conditions in many of the assisted living facilities that house the mentally ill. You should thoroughly investigate any facility which you are considering for your brother.