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Government assistance for family caregivers.

Government programs provide assistance to caregivers, including grant money, respite, transportation and more. The number of people requiring assistance with routine activities of daily life will place increased financial and personal pressure on families to ensure their loved ones receive quality care. Both federal and state government assistance will help family caregivers, and find how to apply below.

Most healthcare and disability insurance policies do not include coverage or payments for long-term care. Fortunately, several government programs offer cash assistance, many of which allow family members to be paid for providing long-term care. Most of these programs are available via Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veterans Administration. There are also non-profit organizations and charities that assist.

Medicare benefits for family caregivers

Original Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living or long-term care. However, when authorized by a doctor, Medicare will provide assistance to a family caregiver as well as the senior or disabled person. The program will cover the cost of medically necessary care for a homebound person recovering from a chronic illness, disability or injury.

For example, a person over the age of 65 recovering from hip surgery or a stroke may require assistance with daily routines after release from the hospital. Or they need a ride to the doctor or therapy. Government assistance also helps caregivers who take care of a senior person with a handicap. Or find other free transportation for senior citizens.

Covered services include home-health services, physical and occupational therapy, medical social workers, speech-language pathologists, and skilled nursing care. Generally, these services must be required for less than seven days a week and less than eight hours a day for a total period of up to 21 days.

Medicare beneficiaries do not have co-payments for approved services. This means the government assistance for caregivers is free. Medicare-certified agencies provide home healthcare services, or the government will provide cash assistance to a family member too.




Some Medicare Advantage plans may provide coverage for longer periods or other types of care, including respite care, a vital service that provides family caregivers a needed break. For example, some Medicare Advantage plans provide the client, and the caregiver, free home delivery of 28 meals, free rides to medical appointments and pharmacies, and a limited amount of in-home care to assist with daily routines following discharge from a hospital or skilled nursing facility. More on Medicare enrollment.

Medicaid caregiver assistance programs

Medicaid provides financial help to caregivers as well as the person who is on the government insurance plan. The federal and state government benefit program that provides free medical, dental or healthcare for low-income people as well as people with no money or insurance, will cover the cost of some types of long-term care, including paying a caregiver. Eligibility requirements, restrictions, and the amount and type of care covered vary by state.

Medicaid typically pays the cost of assisted living, home or family caregivers and nursing home care in all states. However, a variety of programs now authorize "self-directed" services, allowing Medicaid recipients to choose their own at-home services and caregivers (including friends or family members) instead of the services being selected by an agency or facility.

Several basic government assistance programs allow self-directed services for caregivers. The programs go by various names depending on the state,, including the following.

  • Community First Choice
  • Consumer-Directed Services
  • Participant-Directed Services
  • Cash and Counseling
  • Self-Administered Services.





Not every state provides all government caregiving assistance programs, but at least one program is available in each state.  Each program requires a needs assessment and a plan outlining the amount of help required daily. Areas for which assistance for the senior, disabled person or elderly person may be required can include bathing, dressing, feeding, medication management, transportation to appointments, transferring from bed to a wheelchair, and supervision of activities.

The plan must also include provisions for who will provide care when the primary caregiver is unavailable. A budget for goods and services based on the assessment will also be required.

Once a plan is accepted, the recipient chooses a caregiver. Many states allow family members to be paid caregivers. They will get paid weekly by the government Medicaid program. There will be a hourly rate, based on the state.

However, some states exclude spouses and legal guardians, and some programs will only pay a caregiver who does not reside in the same home as the care recipient. In some states, caregivers may be required to become certified Medicaid care providers.Assistance for family caregivers

Designating a family member as a paid Medicaid caregiver can help replace the income lost when the caregiver must give up a job or reduce out-of-pocket costs for families providing care for a loved one. The pay rate is based on Medicaid's hourly rate for home care in the recipient's state of residence.

Locate self-directed Medicaid caregiving programs in your state at Your state's Medicaid agency can also provide information about programs that can help to cover the cost of long-term care.

PACE helps pay for in-home care

The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is a combination Medicare/Medicaid government benefit that may pay for some or all of a person's long-term care costs. The goal is to help the older or disabled person stay in their current home and not need to go into assisted living.

Family caregivers will also get paid by the program. PACE covers the costs of in-home care, adult day care, hospital and nursing home stays, prescriptions, and some transportation for medical purposes.

Local PACE organizations coordinate with the recipient's healthcare team. This means the doctor, hospital, therapist and other medical professionals are also involved in the process. PACE will sometimes cover services that Medicaid and Medicare will not cover.




To be eligible, a person must be 55 or older, in need of nursing home-level care and be able to live safely in the community with PACE support. Learn about about PACE home care.

VA government assistance programs

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers several programs that help veterans cover the cost of long-term care either at home or in assisted-living centers and other facilities. It's estimated that about two million veterans or their surviving spouses qualify for this assistance. The VA will also compensate family caregivers as well.

  • Veteran-directed care programs like those offered by Medicaid are available almost all states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Government sponsored caregiving programs are open to veterans of all ages who are enrolled in the VA healthcare system and who require a level of care provided by a nursing facility but want to remain in their home or the home of a loved one.
    The veteran chooses the caregiver, who may include a spouse, sibling, child, or grandchild. That person will get cash assistance and a paycheck from the government. VA medical centers determine eligibility. Locate your nearest VA center at
  • The VA Aid and Attendance Pension provides cash assistance to qualified veterans, the family members and their spouses that may be used for in-home care or care received in assisted-living settings.  Family members may act as in-home caregivers. A qualified veteran, or their caregiver, can receive a few thousands dollars monthly. A surviving widow who need assistance to pay for a caregiver may receive up to $1,432 monthly.
    To be eligible for the pension, a veteran must have received an honorable discharge and have served at least 90 days on active duty with at least one day in "wartime," as defined by the VA. A surviving spouse qualifies for assistance if the marriage ended due to the veteran's death, whether in combat or not.
    The pension amount is determined based on a veteran's income, assets, and medical needs. The applicant must require the assistance of another person to perform at least some routine activities such as eating, dressing, and bathing. Veterans who are blind or residing in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity may also qualify.




  • Housebound caregiving benefits are available to veterans who receive a military pension but are substantially confined to their homes due to a permanent disability. The government will provide grant money to pay for housing, transportation, food, medical and more. The caregiver will also get a salary. The qualifying single veteran may receive up to several thousand dollars per month. The amount increases if there is a spouse or dependents. Veterans cannot receive both Housebound benefits and an Aid and Attendance Pension
  • The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers is another option the VA provides. A monthly stipend is paid to family members who serve as caregivers.  The veteran must require assistance with routine daily activities due to a serious injury, disability or illness sustained in the line of duty. The stipend amount is based on the region where the veteran resides.
    The veteran must be enrolled in VA health services and have a disability rating of at least 70 percent. Caregivers must be at least 18 years old but may include a child, spouse, parent stepfamily member, or a full-time housemate of the veteran. 

Social Security pays for family caregivers

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs provide financial assistance that can be used to help cover long-term care costs. This is the main government disability benefit, and all sorts of bills are paid are paid from free government money or disability grants. In addition, the expenses incurred by the family caregiver will be covered too. Learn more on free government grants for disabled adults.

SSDI benefits are available to persons under age 65 who can prove they worked in a job covered by Social Security, are unable to work due to a medical condition, and that the condition will last at least a year. While most SSDI applications take up to five months to process, a fast-track procedure is in place for persons with serious medical conditions who need a caregiver, including early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

SSI provides monthly payments to persons 65 and older who are blind or have a disability. The government money also pays for family caregivers. SSI benefits can be paid in addition to retirement or SSDI benefits. The benefit amount depends on living arrangements and countable income. For more information, go to

Other programs that help caregivers

Adult foster-care programs in several states allow relatives to become paid care providers. Most exclude spouses as paid caregivers. Caregivers may be required to obtain some formal training, and the home may be subject to periodic safety inspections and licensing fees.

Many states offer other self-directed programs designed as nursing home alternatives. Programs offered in one state may not be offered in another. Residence often determines what resources are available.







Each state's Agency on Aging, or a senior center, is the best place to begin researching what programs are available. The Eldercare Locator available through the U.S. Administration on Aging will help you find agencies in your state that provide services for older adults and their families. Or locate free food banks, utility bill help, transportation and immediate help for caregivers. Go to eldercare locator.

Caregivers can get help returning to the workforce. Studies show women, in particular mothers, are much more likely to care for a kid, elderly parent, or disabled person. There are returnship programs, non-profits that offer programs that help them re-enter the job market or get new skills and more. Find a returnship program for mothers.

Need for financial assistance for caregiving a family member

Nearly 80% of adults who live at home and receive long-term-care assistance depend exclusively on relatives and friends. Being a caregiver can be stressful, expensive and emotionally draining. The government does have some assistance programs that help family caregivers, gives them food or grant money, or even pay them an income. Caregiving can stretch family budgets to a breaking point.

By investing a little to explore options, you may find available resources including benefits listed above. These programs can provide financial assistance, a salary or personal services that will help you make ends meet and reduce stress while ensuring your loved one receives quality care.


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By Jon McNamara

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