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

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 01, 2016
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 Answers

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

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.

Community Answers

Delfinamanotas answered...

Hello there... With regard to the types of care adult siblings give, studies find that siblings provide both affective and instrumental social supports. Affective support encompasses emotionally-based care such as companionship, encouragement, praise, and intimacy. A brother should give more functional help (i.e., emotional support and assistance with household tasks, shopping, crises, finances, rides, and gifts) and were more likely to maintain an emotional connection with their brothers and sisters when both parents were deceased. Now, there was a shift in how we cared for the disabled mentally ill between 1955 and 1987. In 1955, we were hospitalizing them.Then, by 1987, we had gone through social change, and we were now placing people in shelters, nursing homes, and some sort of community care, and gave them either SSI or SSDI payments for mental disability.

Disability Benefits exist for persons who become physically or mentally disabled prior to retirement age. Disability must be severe enough to prohibit substantial work and be expected to last for a year or more. Generally provides a higher income than SSI. SSI Provides monthly cash payment to aged, blind, and disabled people who have little or no income. Recipients may be eligible for Medicaid benefits. While doctors and nurses "BY LAW" are not allowed to talk to you about the situation with your son/daughter or brother/sister if they are over the age of 18 (in most states). Many doctors and nurses are sympathetic to the challenges the family faces - but they have to follow the law or they could lose their jobs.

Regards, Delfina Manotas

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