• Savvy Senior: Financial Aid for Family Caregivers

    Dear Savvy Senior,

    Do you know of any resources that help family caregivers monetarily? I have to miss a lot of work to take care of my elderly mother and it’s financially stressing me.

    – Stretched Thin

     

    Dear Stretched,

    Caring for an elder parent can be challenging in many ways, but it can be especially difficult financially if you have to miss work or quit your job to provide care.

    Fortunately, there are a number of government programs, tax breaks, and other tips that may be able to help you monetarily while you care for your mother. Here are some options to explore.

     

    State assistance: Most states have programs that help low-income seniors pay for in-home care services, including paying family members for care.

    These programs — which go by various names, such as “cash and counseling” or “consumer-directed”— vary greatly depending on where you live and, in some states, on whether your mom is on Medicaid.

    To find out what’s available in your state, contact your local Medicaid office.

     

    Veterans benefits: Veterans who need assistance with daily living activities can enroll in the Veteran-Directed Care program.

    This program, available through VA Medical Centers in 40 states, as well as in Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, provides as much as $2,000 a month, which can be used to pay family members for home care.

    Visit the “Home and Community-Based Services” section at www.va.gov/geriatrics for information.

    Also available to wartime veterans and their surviving spouses is a benefit called Aid and Attendance, which helps pay for in-home care as well as assisted living and nursing home care. This benefit can also be used to pay family caregivers.

    To be eligible, your mother must need assistance with daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, or going to the bathroom.

    Changes to income and asset limits — including a new 36-month look-back period on asset transfers — went into effect Oct. 18. To learn more about eligibility requirements, go to www.vets.gov/pension.

     

    Tax breaks: If you pay at least half of your mom’s yearly expenses, and her gross income is below $4,050 (in 2017) not counting her Social Security or disability, you can claim her as a dependent on your taxes and get a $500 tax credit.

    For more information, go to the Interactive Tax Assistant page on the IRS’s website (www.irs.gov/help/ita) and click on “Whom May I Claim as a Dependent?”

    If you can’t claim her as a dependent, you may still be able to get a tax break if you’re paying more than half her living expenses including medical and long-term care costs, and they exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.

    You can include your own medical expenses in calculating the total. See IRS publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses (www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p502.pdf) for details.

     

    Long-term care insurance: If your mother has long-term care insurance, check whether it covers in-home care. Some policies permit family members to be paid, although they may exclude people who live in the same household.

     

    Paid caregiver leave and financial support: A small but growing number of companies offer paid caregiving leave as a way to recruit and retain their workforce. Check with your employer to see what, if any, benefits are available to you.

    Additionally, the Pennsylvania Caregiver Support Program aims to reduce stress on primary, informal, unpaid caregivers through a variety of potential benefits, such as financial assistance for services, supplies, and assistive devices.

    To find out if you qualify, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s website (www.aging.pa.gov) or call your county’s Area Agency on Aging.

     

    Family funds: If your mother has some savings or other assets, discuss the possibility of her paying you for the care you provide.

    If she agrees, consult with an elder law attorney about drafting a short-written contract that details the terms of the work and payment arrangements, so everyone involved knows what to expect.

     

    You should also check BenefitsCheckUp (www.benefitscheckup.org), a free, confidential web tool that can help you search for financial assistance programs that your mom or you may be eligible for.

     

    Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of The Savvy Senior book.

  • Savvy Senior: Financial Aid for Family Caregivers

    Dear Savvy Senior,

    Do you know of any resources that help family caregivers monetarily? I have to miss a lot of work to take care of my elderly mother and it’s financially stressing me.

    – Stretched Thin

     

    Dear Stretched,

    Caring for an elder parent can be challenging in many ways, but it can be especially difficult financially if you have to miss work or quit your job to provide care.

    Fortunately, there are a number of government programs, tax breaks, and other tips that may be able to help you monetarily while you care for your mother. Here are some options to explore.

     

    State assistance: Most states have programs that help low-income seniors pay for in-home care services, including paying family members for care.

    These programs — which go by various names, such as “cash and counseling” or “consumer-directed”— vary greatly depending on where you live and, in some states, on whether your mom is on Medicaid.

    To find out what’s available in your state, contact your local Medicaid office.

     

    Veterans benefits: Veterans who need assistance with daily living activities can enroll in the Veteran-Directed Care program.

    This program, available through VA Medical Centers in 40 states, as well as in Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, provides as much as $2,000 a month, which can be used to pay family members for home care.

    Visit the “Home and Community-Based Services” section at www.va.gov/geriatrics for information.

    Also available to wartime veterans and their surviving spouses is a benefit called Aid and Attendance, which helps pay for in-home care as well as assisted living and nursing home care. This benefit can also be used to pay family caregivers.

    To be eligible, your mother must need assistance with daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, or going to the bathroom.

    Changes to income and asset limits — including a new 36-month look-back period on asset transfers — went into effect Oct. 18. To learn more about eligibility requirements, go to www.vets.gov/pension.

     

    Tax breaks: If you pay at least half of your mom’s yearly expenses, and her gross income is below $4,050 (in 2017) not counting her Social Security or disability, you can claim her as a dependent on your taxes and get a $500 tax credit.

    For more information, go to the Interactive Tax Assistant page on the IRS’s website (www.irs.gov/help/ita) and click on “Whom May I Claim as a Dependent?”

    If you can’t claim her as a dependent, you may still be able to get a tax break if you’re paying more than half her living expenses including medical and long-term care costs, and they exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.

    You can include your own medical expenses in calculating the total. See IRS publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses (www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p502.pdf) for details.

     

    Long-term care insurance: If your mother has long-term care insurance, check whether it covers in-home care. Some policies permit family members to be paid, although they may exclude people who live in the same household.

     

    Paid caregiver leave and financial support: A small but growing number of companies offer paid caregiving leave as a way to recruit and retain their workforce. Check with your employer to see what, if any, benefits are available to you.

    Additionally, the Pennsylvania Caregiver Support Program aims to reduce stress on primary, informal, unpaid caregivers through a variety of potential benefits, such as financial assistance for services, supplies, and assistive devices.

    To find out if you qualify, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s website (www.aging.pa.gov) or call your county’s Area Agency on Aging.

     

    Family funds: If your mother has some savings or other assets, discuss the possibility of her paying you for the care you provide.

    If she agrees, consult with an elder law attorney about drafting a short-written contract that details the terms of the work and payment arrangements, so everyone involved knows what to expect.

     

    You should also check BenefitsCheckUp (www.benefitscheckup.org), a free, confidential web tool that can help you search for financial assistance programs that your mom or you may be eligible for.

     

    Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of The Savvy Senior book.

  • Savvy Senior: New Shingles Vaccine Provides Better Protection

    Dear Savvy Senior,

    A good friend of mine got a bad case of shingles last year and has been urging me to get vaccinated. Should I?

    – Suspicious Susan

  • Savvy Senior: Tips and Resources for Older Job Seekers

    Dear Savvy Senior,

    What resources can you recommend to help older jobseekers? I’m 60 and have been out of work for nearly a year now and need some help.

  • Savvy Senior: What to Know about the New Medicare Cards

    Dear Savvy Senior,

    What can you tell me about the new Medicare cards? I’ve heard there are a lot of scams associated with these new cards, and I want to make sure I protect myself.

    – Leery Senior

  • Savvy Senior: Nifty Gadgets that Can Help Seniors with Hearing Loss

    Dear Savvy Senior,

    What types of products can you recommend to help people with hearing problems? My 65-year-old husband has some hearing issues but doesn’t think he needs a hearing aid, so I’m looking for some alternative devices that can help.

  • Savvy Senior: Income Tax Filing Requirements for Retirees

    Dear Savvy Senior,

    What are the IRS income tax filing requirements for seniors this year? I didn’t file a tax return the past two years because my income was below the filing requirements, but I got a part-time job late last year, so I’m wondering if I’m required to file this year.

  • Savvy Senior: Escort Services that Can Help Seniors with the Rigors of Travel

    Dear Savvy Senior,

    Do you know of any services that help seniors with the rigors of traveling? My youngest daughter is getting married in a few months and would love to have my 82-year-old mother attend, but she needs help flying across the country.

  • Savvy Senior: Escort Services that Can Help Seniors with the Rigors of Travel

    Dear Savvy Senior,

    Do you know of any services that help seniors with the rigors of traveling? My youngest daughter is getting married in a few months and would love to have my 82-year-old mother attend, but she needs help flying across the country.

  • Savvy Senior: Assistance Dogs Provide Help and Love

    Dear Savvy Senior,

    What can you tell me about assistance dogs for people with disabilities? My sister, who’s 58, has multiple sclerosis, and I’m wondering if an assistance dog could help make her life a little easier.

  • Savvy Senior: Exercises that Help Ease Arthritis Pain and Stiffness

    Dear Savvy Senior,

    What exercises are best suited for seniors with arthritis? I have osteoarthritis in my neck, back, hip, and knee and have read that exercises can help ease the pain and stiffness, but I don’t know where to start, and I certainly don’t want to aggravate it.

    – Stiff and Achy

  • Savvy Senior: Elder Mediation Can Help Families Resolve Caregiving Conflicts

    Dear Savvy Senior,

  • Savvy Senior: Elder Mediation Can Help Families Resolve Caregiving Conflicts (2)

    Dear Savvy Senior,

  • Savvy Senior: How to Pick a Medicare Advantage Plan

    Dear Savvy Senior,

    I’m approaching 65 and am interested in a Medicare Advantage plan to cover my healthcare and medications. What tips can you provide to help me pick a plan?

  • Savvy Senior: How to Pick a Medicare Advantage Plan

    Dear Savvy Senior,

    I’m approaching 65 and am interested in a Medicare Advantage plan to cover my healthcare and medications. What tips can you provide to help me pick a plan?

  • Savvy Senior: Finding Help for Seniors Addicted to Opioids

    Dear Savvy Senior,

    I’m worried about my 72-year-old mother, who has been taking the opioid medication Vicodin for her hip and back pain for more than a year. I fear she’s becoming addicted to the drug, but I don’t know what to do.

  • Savvy Senior: New Medicare Cards Debut Next Year

    Dear Savvy Senior,

    I just received my Medicare card in the mail and was surprised to see that the ID number is the same as my Social Security number.

  • Savvy Senior: New Medicare Cards Debut Next Year

    Dear Savvy Senior,

    I just received my Medicare card in the mail and was surprised to see that the ID number is the same as my Social Security number.

  • Savvy Senior: Coping with Ringing in Your Ears

    Dear Savvy Senior,

  • Savvy Senior: Golf Gadgets that Can Help Older Golfers

    Dear Savvy Senior,
    Do you know of any golfing gadgets or equipment that can help older golfers? My dad loves to play golf, but arthritis in his hands makes gripping the club difficult.

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