Stay-at-Home Orders and fear of infection from COVID-19 have left many families struggling to manage the care needs of their aging loved ones. Taking care of a parent can be a full-time job, often resulting in the child’s own employment being sacrificed along with their own financial security, family time, and freedom. Some families have been able to “make do” over the past 3 months by being able to work from home and care for their loved one simultaneously. However, as we begin to re-enter traditional work environments, or plan for a return in the fall, many of us have not yet contemplated how we will arrange for the care of our elderly loved ones. While some may be considering in-home care, they may also be finding that full-time in-home care is just as expensive, or even more expensive than 24-hour a day facility care. During this uncertain time, what real solutions exist?
Medicaid, or Medical Assistance as it’s referred to in Pennsylvania, provides in home care through two different programs, the Community Health Choices Waiver Program, and the LIFE (Living Independently For Elders) Program. Although this is not 24-hour care, these programs do provide a nursing home alternative for those who may have family support or resources. And before you assume that there is no way you can be eligible for a Medicaid Program, you should understand that YOU may be exactly the person to whom we are speaking, and if so, then we can get you eligible. Medicaid, as with any government program, has rules to follow for eligibility and this is where our experienced Elder Law Attorneys at Zacharia Brown can advise you and develop a plan for eligibility and the protection of assets.
- The Waiver Program is a Home and Community Based Waiver Services program for individuals age 60 and older. The purpose of this program is to provide support and services to individuals living in their homes and communities. Some examples of what the Waiver Program may provide are: in-home care for assistance with activities of daily living, meal preparation, housekeeping, transportation services, respite, service coordination, home delivered meals, telecare, accessibility adaptions, equipment, technology and medical supplies, among a whole host of other supplies and services. These services can be provided by an agency (many of the agencies you see out in the community participate in the waiver program), a private credentialed provider, or even a family member who will be able to receive the waiver funds for the care that they are providing. This program requires the submission and approval of a Medicaid Application. If you are a married couple or an individual and have assets and income that are in excess of the immediate Medicaid eligibility criteria, Zacharia Brown will represent you in devising a Medicaid Application Plan for the protection and planning of your assets and income to attain eligibility.
- The LIFE Program is a care program that provides a comprehensive, all-inclusive package of medical and supportive services. The program partners with caregivers to provide quality care for their loved ones and provide help, support, and peace of mind. The program also provides transportation, coordination of Medicare and Medicaid Services, and prescription medication at no additional cost to the participant. The ultimate goal of the program is to help members live independently in the community for as long as possible with a focus on preventive care. This program can be paid for privately, however to receive the services at no cost, it requires the submission and approval of a Medicaid Application. If you have assets and income that are in excess of the immediate Medicaid eligibility criteria, Zacharia Brown will represent you in devising a Medicaid Application Plan for the protection and planning of your assets and income to attain eligibility.
The Veterans Administration also provides financial support to wartime veterans or their surviving spouses who are incurring care expenses.
- Veterans Benefits Planning is an often overlooked and misunderstood program because of the uncertainty as to one’s eligibility and because of what is perceived to be a rigorous process to attain eligibility. The VA Pension benefit provides a monthly payment for qualified Veterans and survivors that need assistance with activities of daily living, if they’re housebound, or Veterans that have qualifying medical expenses of a spouse. This is an often utilized benefit for those wishing to receive care in the home by a home healthcare agency, a child or other family member, or by residing in an assisted living or personal care home. Planning and understanding the rules for eligibility are critical in making sure that your application doesn’t get caught up in red tape and take years to ultimately receive a denial rather than being approved.
Zacharia Brown often utilizes Caregiver Agreements in working toward attaining financial eligibility for Veterans.
- Caregiver Agreements. Caregiving is usually unpaid work, however, parents who wish to compensate a child who takes on the role of caregiver may do so through the use of a Caregiver Agreement. Caregiver agreements are an increasingly popular way to ensure that a child is compensated for their caregiving assistance. A caregiver agreement (or personal care contract) is a contract between a parent and a child (or other family member) in which the parent agrees to reimburse the child/family member for caring for the parent. These agreements have many benefits. First, they provide a way to thank a family member who is caring for an ailing parent. Second, they can help to alleviate tension between family members by making sure that a caregiver is fairly compensated. Most importantly, these agreements can also be a key component of Medicaid and VA planning when used properly. One downside to caregiver agreements is that the income is taxable to the caregiver, and aside from taxation, can cause reductions in a child’s social security retirement or unemployment compensation benefits. Therefore, it is essential that these agreements be drafted by an experienced elder law attorney.
The most important thing to know is that THESE RESOURCES DO EXIST, but they take time to get in place. If you are planning to return to work in the fall, the time to act is NOW! We can help you protect your life savings and guide you through the process of eligibility for these in-home programs.
For help with finding at care @ home options and devising a plan to pay for them, please contact us by calling 724.942.6200 or by visiting our website at PittsburghElderLaw.com.