Did you know that over 53 million Americans provide unpaid care for a family member or loved one? While many people don't question their role as a caregiver or expect payment for their loving sacrifice, caregiving can take a financial, emotional, and physical toll on the family members who assume this role. Many caregivers will end up spending their own money on supplies, transport, and other necessities for their loved ones — not to mention time and emotional energy.
Studies show that the average family caregiver in the U.S. spends over a quarter of their income on caregiving expenses. At Aidaly, we believe that caregivers deserve compensation and recognition for the critical care they provide. Read on to discover the benefits and programs California caregivers may be eligible for.
Most people are taxpayers, so the government will often give financial assistance by helping out with taxes. Unless you know what you're entitled to, or work with someone who does, you may miss out.
California caregivers may be eligible for tax benefits that can save you money. Find out more about each one below.
The Child Tax Credit and the Tax Credit for Other Dependents
People who claim their children or other dependents on their federal tax return can receive up to $2,000 for each qualified dependent. These credits are fully refundable, which means you can get the money even if you owe no taxes. To receive one of these credits, you must meet certain income requirements. To learn more and discover if you are eligible, there is more information available here.
The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
If you paid someone to care for your dependent while you were at work or looking for work, you could get money back even if you owe no taxes. You can claim up to $8,000 of what you paid for daycare, day camps, babysitting, adult day programs, or caregiving while you were working or looking for work. You can read more about the credit here and determine if your family is eligible.
Medical and Dental Expenses Tax Deductions
If you spent more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) on medical or dental expenses that weren't reimbursed by your insurance, you can deduct that money from your taxable income and owe less on your taxes. You can count any money you spend on eligible expenses for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents. The total can add up quickly. Find out if you meet the requirements here.
Medicaid and Other State Programs
Almost one-third of Californians are enrolled in Medi-Cal, California's version of Medicaid — that's a whopping 14 million people. Medi-Cal is a state-based program that provides health insurance and medical assistance to people who meet the specified income and health requirements. For your loved one to be eligible for some state-based support services, like in-home support services, they must first be enrolled with Medi-Cal. In contrast, other state programs exist independently of Medicaid.
In-Home Support Services (IHSS)
IHSS is a state government program that allows physically compromised people to pay for services that allow them to remain in their own homes. To be eligible, you must be either 65 years of age or older, disabled, or blind. This program allows the patient to choose who they hire and pay to provide caregiving services, which can include family members.
To be eligible, the patient must be on Medi-Cal. Click here to learn how to apply for the program.
California Sick Leave
In California, sick leave offers a minimum of three paid sick days per year. These do not have to be used for your own illness but can be taken if you need to care for your spouse. This short-term solution is best explored by contacting your employer's human resources department directly.
California Paid Family Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act
The California Paid Family Leave Act is designed to subsidize 60% to 70% of income lost due to an inability to work while providing care for a loved one. Sometimes, working as a caregiver requires leave from work to provide round-the-clock care. To be eligible, you must have a job that contributes to the California State Disability Insurance fund and be providing care to a family member. To learn more about eligibility and apply, click here.
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is an act that protects your job while on leave due to specific care-related circumstances. However, CFRA alone doesn't provide any wages, so it is usually paired with the paid family leave described above. More information about the CFRA can be found here.
Long-Term Care Insurance
If the person you are caring for has long-term care insurance and meets the criteria and requirements for their policy, their insurance may allow them to pay family members to provide their care. Eligibility depends on the specific policy, so the patient's insurance provider must be contacted directly to assess eligibility. More information about long-term care insurance can be found here.
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers several programs which help Veterans, their surviving spouses, and their caregivers. There are also some state-specific Veterans benefits and resources available from CalVet. Learn more here.
Veterans Aid and Attendance and Housebound Allowance
The Veterans Aid and Attendance Program allows Veterans to pay family members to provide care by increasing their pension amount. The amount available each month depends on the Veteran's income, although it can be substantial. The eligibility criteria involve demonstrating that the Veteran requires help with daily living, is housebound, has limited eyesight, or has other needs that require assistance. To assess eligibility and apply, click here.
Veterans-Directed Home and Community Based Services or Veteran Directed Care (VD-HCBS) Program
The VD-HCBS program is for Veterans who need help with personal care. Care can involve bathing, dressing, meal preparation, and other basic needs. The program allows the Veteran to select who they wish to provide their care and allows them to spend the budget at their discretion. Not all counties within California are part of this program, but you can find out more about the program and assess eligibility here.
Caregiving is difficult, but knowing you are not alone on this journey is important. At Aidaly you can connect with other caregivers, share your story, and get answers to your financial and legal questions. Register with Aidaly today to discover a supportive community of fellow family caregivers.