Medicare, Social Security, and Insurance

4/22/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

A 2020 report by AARP, in conjunction with the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC), indicates that somewhere around 53 million Americans care for an aging or ailing loved one without compensation. On average, these caregivers work nearly 24 hours each week.

Because they are sometimes forced to take on debt or, at the very least, cannot save money for their own families, these adult children and others providing care are looking for ways to mitigate the financial burden that this unpaid obligation imposes on them.

One of the questions that frequently crops up concerns social security retirement benefits. In fact, will social security pay for a caregiver?

Jumping right in: will social security pay for a caregiver?

The answer is that social security for retirement will not pay for a caregiver directly. However, older adults in need of care may use their social security income to hire and pay someone to look after them. If someone’s lifetime earnings are sufficient and they have waited to collect benefits until their full retirement age or beyond, their monthly checks might be adequate to pay for a caregiver.

Similarly, social security will not directly pay for any other costs associated with caregiving, such as medications, medical equipment, home modifications, and personal care supplies. Once again, social security recipients may use this income to cover these costs.

Does supplemental security income (SSI) pay for a caregiver?

SSI will not pay a caregiver directly, but you can use SSI funds to either pay an individual for care services or a company that provides care through their staff.

Keep in mind that SSI is a joint state and federal program that is income-based. While each state has its own standards to qualify for benefits, Medicaid does offer caregiver assistance under specific conditions. Many states have programs designed to pay for care at home instead of in a nursing home. These Medicaid Waiver programs, as they are often called, might offer the following services if you qualify:

  • In-home health care
  • Personal care services, such as help bathing, eating and transferring
  • Help with household chores, such as shopping, cleaning, or laundry
  • Caregiver support
  • Minor modifications to the home to make it more accessible
  • Medical equipment

Family members can get paid for providing care to someone on Medicaid in many states. The applicant applies for Medicaid and chooses a program allowing the recipient to pick a caregiver. Often called “consumer-directed care,” these state programs are offered under several titles, including the Medicaid State Plan Personal Care and the Medicaid HCBS Waivers programs.

Medicaid might also pay for caregiving assistance, including:

  • Meal preparation or delivery
  • Personal care services, such as dressing and bathing
  • Cleaning and laundry tasks
  • Transportation to and from medical appointments
  • Minor modifications, like adding a wheelchair ramp or widening a doorway
  • Durable medical equipment

Can Social Security Pay for Assisted Living?

Will social security disability insurance (SSDI) help pay for a caregiver? 

While SSDI will not pay for caregiving directly, there are some circumstances under which someone could receive money, or the recipient could use it to pay for a caregiver. Here are some examples:

If they meet specific requirements (primarily 62 years of age), spouses of disabled people are also eligible to receive financial assistance. They receive help even if they don’t care for their disabled spouse, and the amount they get doesn’t increase if they do provide care.

Another option is for the disabled person to use their funds to pay a family caregiver. It is best to speak with an attorney if you are setting up a contract between you and a caregiver.

Other caregiver resources

While we’ve determined the answer to the quandary, “will social security pay for a caregiver?,” there are other resources at your disposal. If you don’t qualify for either SSDI or SSI and don’t want to take early social security retirement benefits, here are a few other sources that could help:

  • VA Benefits: If you or your spouse has been in the military, you may be eligible for in-home caregiver services or reimbursement through the VA. 
  • Long-term Care Insurance: Some families choose to purchase long-term care insurance to help pay for in-home, assisted living, or nursing care costs.
  • National Council on Aging: The Council on Aging has a Benefits CheckUp Program. You simply enter your zip code to find financial resources in your area.
  • Area Agencies on Aging: Your Area Agency on Aging has lots of information on caregiver support programs. They might even offer reduced-fee attorneys to help you determine your social security benefits. 

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff