Sometimes family caregivers have to leave their jobs to care for elderly or sick parents. There are approximately 66 million adults who are caring for their parents without getting any pay, according to National Alliance for Caregiving. Admittedly, there are no national programs that compensate people who are taking care of elderly parents. There are myriad support programs within the states, but these programs offer more support to the elderly parents than they compensate the caregivers. Additionally, few programs offer monetary compensation for family caregivers.
Federal-State Unemployment Compensation (UC) Program
The Federal-State Unemployment Compensation program is the most well-known form of compensation for those who lose their jobs. The creation of this program under the Social Security Act of 1935 had the purpose of providing temporary wages for workers who are involuntarily unemployed. Eligibility for this compensation program is usually determined by the states. In general, you must have worked for an employer covered by the program for a specific duration, earned a certain amount of income and have the capacity to go back to work to be eligible. Contact your state employment labor department to apply for this compensation program as a family caregiver.
Other than government-funded support programs, family caregivers can also receive private compensation from the parents they are taking care of. Your elderly parents can use their own funds to pay you or may use funds from Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, Supplemental Security Income or home care insurance to compensate you for leaving your job to care for them. It is important to note that federal law requires that both the employer (your parents in this case) and employee (you/caregiver) honor their payroll taxes for annual compensation of over $1,700.
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Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is a health insurance benefit established by the federal government for people who involuntarily lose their jobs. When you leave your job to care for elderly parents, you risk losing health insurance benefits that would otherwise cover your emergency health care needs. By applying to COBRA you are able to extend for 18 months the group health insurance benefits that your previous employer offered you. To be eligible you must have left work for reasons beyond your control and been part of your employer-sponsored insurance program before you left the job.
National Family Caregiver Support
The National Family Caregiver Support established in 2000 provides compensation to family caregivers, not in the form of cash, but in form of temporary reprieve. Through this program a family caregiver is given support such as a home care aide who comes in on certain arranged days to take over from the caregiver. This way you are able to earn an income by working part-time as the stand-in home aide cares for your elderly parents. Contact your local area Agency on Ageing to find out how you can apply for the National Family Caregiver Support benefits.