Can I get paid to be a caregiver for my husband with COPD?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband is 64 and is disabled, but can still drive. He has breathing trouble and is on oxgen most of the time. I need to know if i can quit my job and get paid to take care of him. He also has copd.

Expert Answer

In some states, there are programs that can pay family caregivers to care for their loved one at home. However, there are several severe limitations on these programs that probably mean that they would not allow you -- financially speaking -- to quit your job. And if you keep your job, you are not likely to be eligible for one of the programs. However, if you are forced to quit your job in order to care for your husband, the program might be an important source of added income. Here are the basics about these programs that pay family caregivers, as they would apply in your situation:

  1. The programs are only available in certain states.

  2. The programs are only available to people whose family income -- meaning both spouses -- is very low and who have few assets other than the home they live in. In most case, these income and asset limits are the same as the state's Medicaid eligibility limits. In your case, the program would add up any income you earn plus any disability benefits your husband receives from Social Security or any other insurance or program.

  3. If you qualify to be a paid caregiver, the amount the program pays is very low and would probably not come close to the amount you are making at a full-time job.

If your husband is eligible for Medicaid, the state's Cash and Counseling (or other, similar name) program -- if your state has one -- can provide direct caregiver payments that could go to you. A few other states have similar programs for low-income seniors, even if the person receiving care doesn't quite qualify for Medicaid. The amount the program would pay depends on the program's assessment of your husband's need for care, on the prevailing pay rate for in-home care aides in your state, and on the program's own payment limits.

To find out whether your state has a Cash and Counseling or similar program, and if so to learn how much it might pay you, contact your local Medicaid, human services, or social services office. To find the nearest Medicaid or other state office that handles in-home care programs, contact your nearest Area Agency on Aging and ask them whom to call in your state to learn about direct payment programs for in-home care.