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How To Get Paid for Taking Care of a Disabled Family Member

How To Get Paid for Taking Care of a Disabled Family Member
November 3, 2022

In Florida, you can get paid to care for a disabled or elderly loved one. If you need help understanding this process, contact Elder Needs Law. Call us today to schedule your consultation.

Read this guide to learn how you can get paid for taking care of a disabled family member:

How can you get paid for caring for a disabled family member in Florida? That's today's question. And glad you asked.

So, first of all, you're not automatically entitled to get paid just because you have a family member who is disabled. A Medicaid program in Florida called Medicaid Waiver will allow family members to care for their disabled or elderly loved one. And this is typically through what's called the PDO program.

So we're assuming for a second that your loved one or your disabled loved one is already eligible for Medicaid, they meet the financial criteria, and they're either disabled or over the age of 65. Okay, that's what you need. The financial criteria are less than $2,000, essentially to your name. If you're below the income cap, which changes yearly, there's a waitlist process. You submit an application, and you then eventually get approved.

Hopefully, suppose you are not financially eligible for Medicaid. In that case, that is where a law firm like ours can do wonders for you because we have legal and ethical ways to get you or your loved one eligible for Medicaid without having to wait five years, without having to sell your house, or without having to go broke right. So that's why people call us, among other things.

But let's assume for a second that you're eligible for Medicaid or you've worked with a firm like ours to use strategies to protect your assets and get you qualified for Medicaid. You are enrolled in the Medicaid waiver program. And you will pick a managed care organization Medicaid in Florida subcontracts. The actual maintenance of Medicaid to these different organizations and some of them are huge marquee names like United, Humana, Aetna, and Sunshine Health at Florida community care that many people have already heard of. And they are the ones who are your bigger Medicaid providers.

So once you pick one of these providers, what they typically will do is they'll give you a list of homecare agencies that they contract with. Then they will pay those agencies for however many hours of home health care your disabled family member has been approved for after enrolling in the Medicaid waiver program. But what you would do if you want a family member to get paid you'd say, "No, I don't want to go through an agency. I want to go through the PDO program, that participant directed option." That's what you will tell your Medicaid case manager.

And the only restriction to the PDO program is that the person you choose, the family member or friend or whoever you choose, has to be able to work in the United States legally. And they have to pass a level two background check where they're going to be fingerprinted and go through a background screening process. That is essentially it. Other than that, it can be a spouse, it can be a child, it can be a cousin, a friend, an uncle, an niece, whoever anyone you want, can be paid for the number of hours that the Medicaid waiver program has approved you for.

Be aware that the PDO program pays poorly; you don't get to choose your hourly rate, and they will tell you what their hourly rate is. And what I typically see is $11 an hour for unskilled work. And I think they go up to something like $30 or $35 an hour for skilled work like cleaning tubes and where you would normally have to hire a nurse but not for things like bathing, eating, cooking, and toileting. But for skilled work, they will approve a slightly higher rate.

So that's how a family member can get paid for caring for an elderly or disabled family member. Now let's rewind a second. You're saying to yourself, "Well, I have assets, I have more than $2,000 to my name. What can I do then?" Well, one thing is you could naturally spend all of your money and when you run out of money, you will be financially eligible. Or you can contact a law firm like ours. And we have a variety of legal and ethical strategies to protect your assets in a way that makes you eligible for Medicaid. We don't hide anything. We tell Medicaid exactly what it is: that we did with the assets and why still under state and federal law, your loved ones are entitled to be eligible for this Medicaid waiver program to help pay for home health care. I bring that up because one of those tools is a personal services contract.

If you have and this is for people of the eventual Medicaid app they have assets, and they don't want to give them away. They don't want to wait five years. I mean, they can't give it away. That's I should say, but they don't want to spend down their money naturally. They want to protect their money. One tool is a personal services contract where you can pay a family member. After a contract is signed, it doesn't work retroactively. So the contract has to be signed, it has to be appropriately prepared, and it has to be Medicaid compliant. You can't just, you know, this is not something you do on the back of a napkin and hope for the best.

A very specific terminology is needed for a personal services contract. But if it's laid out properly, in advance of applying for Medicaid, the Medicaid applicant can pay a lump sum amount to a family member, but not their spouse. It can be a child, it can be any other family member or friend, whoever is helping them out taking care of them. The personal services contract sometimes also referred to as a family caregiver agreement can help out so these are when people are looking for ways to get paid for taking care of a disabled or elderly family member.

They're typically referring to the personal services contract if the Medicaid applicant has assets, and then after they're eligible for Medicaid. They either naturally don't have assets, or we've done our work to protect them with our law firm, then they can run that PDO program for some pay as they go for the extra work. So I hope that clears that up. And if you have any questions or if you're anywhere in Florida or your loved ones are anywhere in Florida, and you want to talk more about how to get them onto Medicaid and how to get a family member paid for taking care of a loved one, please schedule a consultation. Thank you very much.

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Jason Neufeld is the Founder and Managing Partner of Elder Needs Law, a Florida estate planning and elder law firm he created in 2017. With more than 15 years of experience practicing law, he represents clients in a wide range of legal matters, including Medicaid planning, estate planning, elder law, probate, Medicare, and life insurance.

Jason received his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami — School of Law and is a member of the Florida Bar and the Broward County Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named a Rising Star and Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers and among the Florida Legal Elite by Florida Trend in 2024.

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