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How to get paid for being a family caregiver

Published 10:05am Friday, September 20, 2013

Tax breaks

Uncle Sam may also be able to help if you pay at least half of your mom’s yearly expenses, and her annual income was below $3,900 in 2013 (not counting Social Security). If so, you can claim her as a dependent on your taxes, and reduce your taxable income by $3,900. See IRS Publication 501 (www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p501.pdf) or call the IRS help-line at 800-829-1040 for information.

If you can’t claim your mom as a dependent, you may still be able to get a tax break if you’re paying at least half her living expenses including her medical and long-term care costs, and they exceed 10 percent (or 7.5 percent if you’re 65 or over) of your adjusted gross income. You can include your own medical expenses in calculating the total. See the IRS publication 502 (www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p502.pdf) for details.

 Family payments

If your mom doesn’t financially qualify for the government aid or the tax breaks, can she afford to pay you herself or do you have any siblings that would be willing to chip in? After all, if your mom had to pay for home care services, the costs would be anywhere between $12 and $25 per hour.

If she agrees to pay you, it’s best that you or an attorney draft a short written contract detailing your work and payment arrangements so every one involved knows what to expect. A contract will also help avoid potential problems should your mom ever need to apply for Medicaid for nursing home care.

Another payment option to consider is for your mom to adjust her will, so you receive a larger portion of her estate for providing her care. But to avoid conflict, be sure all family members are aware and in agreement.

Also, check to see if your mom has any long-term care insurance that covers in-home care. If she does, in some cases those benefits may be used to pay you.

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

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