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All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Family Care Arrangements to Pay the Cost of Home Care Services

Approximately 70% of all people receiving long term care in this country are in their homes.  This care is provided primarily by family members who are not paid for their services.  In many cases, family members are more than happy to provide unpaid care because that is what families do.  On the other hand, some family members go to great sacrifice to provide care for their loved ones.  In some cases they have to give up employment, move to a new location, give up spending time with a spouse or children and possibly isolate themselves from any normal pursuits other than caregiving.  In these cases, it would seem reasonable that children or other close members of the family should be reimbursed for their sacrifice.

Fortunately, for those veterans who served during a period of war, the Department of Veterans Affairs will provide funds to all those who qualify to help cover the cost of paying family members to provide care for their loved ones.

The veterans program is called Pension and it is commonly referred to as the "veterans aid and attendance benefit."  Pension can pay up to $1,949 a month in additional income to a veteran household to cover the cost of paying a child or a friend for providing care in the home.  A spouse providing this care would not qualify.

If the disabled veteran or the single surviving spouse of a veteran has been rated "housebound" or in need of "aid and attendance" by the VA, all fees paid to an in-home attendant -- this includes members of the family as well as friends or hired caregivers -- will be allowed as a deduction for determining Pension as long as the attendant provides some medical or nursing services for the disabled person.  The attendant does not have to be a licensed health professional.

A family member may be considered an in-home attendant, but that family member has to be paid for services rendered.  There is potential for fraud here where a family member may move into the home and ostensibly receive payment as a caregiver but not actually provide the level of care paid for.
Documentation for this care must be provided to the VA, and it is reasonable for the VA to question whether the services being purchased from someone living in the household are legitimate.
Because of this, the evidence for an arms-length, legally functioning care arrangement must be irrefutable.

It is important to note that claimants are responsible to ensure that any caregivers, including family, are compensated in accordance with federal and state guidelines, and that any appropriate taxes, social security and unemployment fees be paid by both the caregiver and the claimant. Claimants should contract with a payroll service to ensure compliance with necessary regulations.

In the case of VA Non-Service Connected Disability Pension for Housebound or Aid & Attendance, certain critical forms and documents must be submitted with the initial application in order to avoid delays in the claims process or even a denial.  It is almost impossible for a family member who wants to receive the Pension benefit to comply with all of the documentation requirements without knowledge of how the actual process of application works. 

Aging with Grace is available to provide pre-filing consultation* for families that wish to pursue establishing Family Care Arrangements.  In addition to sample documentation, AWG has secured discounted payroll and support services for its clients through HireFamily LLC (www.HireFamily.com), which enables claimants to pay caregiver(s) in accordance with all federal and state guidelines.  Assistance with preparing claim paperwork for VA Benefits is provided at no additional cost. **

To learn more, visit www.agingwithgrace.net

*AWG is not a substitute for legal counsel, tax advice or financial planning and a personal service contract created for paid family caregiving purposes should be reviewed by an attorney.

**AWG Veteran Services is a private practitioner and not connected with the Department of Veterans Affairs. This service is provided by a VA accredited Claims Agent. We comply with federal statutes and regulations governing the preparation, presentation and prosecution of any claim for veterans’ benefits with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Our Long Term Care Planning Consultation fee is for pre-filing services only. Membership in the Aging with Grace Program is not required. No additional fees are charged for assistance with preparing or filing a claim for VA benefits.

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