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Protecting Your Money: Being a Caregiver

Being a caregiver
Posted at 4:23 PM, Jul 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-07 17:24:44-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — What do you do if you’re the family member who winds up becoming the caregiver for a loved one?

"Usually, it’s one adult child that will step up to the plate and carry the load, and expecting that the siblings will also follow. But most of the time they don’t," says Felipa Lopez Wilmot with the Area Agency on Aging.

Wilmot says they and Sally Edsill hear these stories all the time, and they’re there to help.

According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, 3.4 million people in Texas provide daily care for loved ones who are older or disabled.

Most people think caregivers get paid to do what they do, and you can get paid. There are state and federal programs that pay a family member to care for a loved one as long as the caregiver and care recipient meet qualifying criteria.

Estimated average pay for caregivers is $11.00 an hour, but not all caregivers are paid. For instance, Edsill points out that spouses do not get paid to be caregivers.

"A spouse does not get any breaks, such as tax breaks or any stipends, or anything. Unless it’s VA."

According to HHS, caregivers are more likely to be females or unemployed, and that's something Wilmot cautions against. Quitting your job to care for a loved one.

"Even if you work part-time somewhere," she told Action 10 News, "I tell them make sure you have enough quarters for each year to protect yourself.. whereas if you quit your job and you don’t work anymore ‘cause you’re caring for your loved one, you’re hurting yourself financially."

The quarters Wilmot’s referring to are Social Security benefit quarters. A quarter of coverage generally means a three-month calendar quarter. For instance, in 2021, you must earn at least $1,470 in a quarter for it to count.

There are five different types of caregivers:

  • Family member
  • Professional
  • Independent
  • Private
  • Informal
  • Volunteer

It’s not easy being a caregiver. HHS found caregivers who don’t take care of their own health develop chronic health problems at nearly twice the rate of non-caregivers.

"The mortality rate for caregivers is high. Sixty percent," Wilmot says. "Sometimes they go before the care receiver. It’s not uncommon."

A sobering statistic to say the least, but there is help available.

The Area Agency on Aging of the Coastal Bend offers a Family Caregiver Program, with benefits including:

1. Information on how to access community resources and caregiver respite services
2. Individual counseling, support groups, and training to assist caregivers in making decisions and colving problems
3. Respite care to temporarily relieve caregivers of their caregiving duties and responsibilities
4. Limited supplemental services that complement the care provided by caregivers, such as:

A. Home Delivered Meals
B. Homemaker/Personal Assistance
C. Adult Daycare
D. Residential Repair
E. Transportation