When taking on the role of caregiver for your spouse, you assume a lot of work and responsibility. This work may take away from your full-time paid employment and/or create extra expenses that you didn’t have previously. When you combine the loss of work and increased expenses, it’s logical to ask the question, can I get paid to be a caregiver for my spouse? In this article, we are going to answer that question and share the ways you can receive compensation or subsidies for caregiving.
Legal Definition of a Caregiver
The term “Family Caregiver” is a legally protected and defined term in the state of California. In general, a family caregiver is an adult providing informal care to another adult. The California Department of Aging, for example, defines eligible caregivers as:
- Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 or older providing care to individuals age 60 or older.
- Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 or older providing care to individuals of any age with Alzheimer’s disease or related disorder with neurologic and organic brain dysfunction.
- Relatives, not parents, age 55 or older providing care to children under the age of 18.
- Relatives, including parents, age 55 or older providing care to individuals of any age with a disability.
While different departments and resources may have slightly different definitions, if you provide any sort of informal care to an aging or ailing loved one, then there are services and resources out there to help you. The important thing is to recognize yourself in the term “caregiver” in order to find them.
Getting Paid to be a Caregiver
There are several laws in the state of California that have been passed to provide you with support. For a more comprehensive list of laws that impact you as a caregiver, click here. Otherwise, here are some of the programs that may offer you compensation as a caregiver.
California Paid Family Leave Act (PFL)
The California Paid Family Leave Act is a program designed to subsidize the loss of income because of an inability to work while providing care. If you need to take time away from your job to provide care, you can apply for this wage replacement program. To be eligible, you need:
- A job that sends contributions to the California State Disability Insurance fund (SDI).
- To be providing care to your child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, grandparent, grandchild, parent-in-law, or sibling.
Click here for more information about the California Paid Family Leave Act, including steps for how to apply.
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) allows you to take a leave away from your job while protecting your position to provide care. This law protects your job but does not subsidize your wages, so it is best used in tandem with the California Paid Family Leave Act. Though CFRA doesn’t help to subsidize wages, we felt it important to include it on this list for your benefit. To be eligible, you need:
- To be employed at a company with over five employees.
- To provide care to your child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, grandparent, grandchild, parent-in-law, or sibling.
If you are eligible, you can take up to 12 weeks off in a 12-month period without fear of job loss or demotion while out on leave. Click here for more information about the California Family Rights Act, including steps for how to apply.
In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS)
IHSS is a government program that offers older adults with disabilities or ailments support to pay for services that allow them to age in place, i.e., remain in their own home. This program is available to low-income families and allows them to choose who they hire to provide these services, which can include family (such as a spouse) and friends. To be eligible, you need:
- To be eligible for Medi-Cal (California’s version of Medicare).
To find more information about what services they can subsidize and how to apply, click here.
Veteran Directed Care
In California, Veteran Directed Care is available for veterans who require a level of care similar to what they would receive in a nursing home, but who wish to remain at home. This program offers the ability for the veteran in question to pay someone of their choice to provide the services they need while staying at home.
Essentially, this program gives the veteran a budget for care in exchange for what they would have had to pay for any care provided by the VA. To be eligible, you need:
- A veteran in need of care comparable to “nursing home level.”
- To find a participating VA Medical Center. (Note: as of the time of writing, only San Diego is taking part in this program. Anyone living outside of San Diego can still take part in the program, but may need to travel to San Diego or an out-of-state VAMC to activate it.)
Long-term Care Insurance
If the care recipient has long-term care insurance and meets the criteria and requirements for their policy, they may be eligible to hire family members to provide care through their insurance. To be eligible, your policy needs to:
- Pay for care provided outside of formal resident care facilities.
- Pay out to the policyholder directly.
Every insurance policy is different, so contact your care recipient’s insurance provider to see if this is a viable solution for you.
California Sick Leave
In the state of California, sick leave offers a minimum of 3 job-protected and paid sick days (note: some localities allow for more) per year. You are eligible to use your sick leave to cover days out of the office that you need to take to provide certain types of care to your spouse. To be eligible, you need:
- To have been employed by the same employer for at least 30 consecutive days.
Contact your company’s HR department or your direct supervisor for more information about using California sick leave.
Subsidies for Providing Care
If none of these options work for you to find pay as a caregiver, you still have options. The state of California and various nonprofits offer many programs for caregivers that provide financial relief for specific purposes (such as respite care, for example).
To find more information about subsidies, disease-specific organizations, local and community resources, and more, reach out to your local CRC. We can help to connect you with the resources you need.
Thankfully, in California, the state recognizes the important contributions caregivers make to the health and longevity of their care recipients. Subsidies make it possible to provide care longer than would have been possible without them, allow family caregivers to provide better quality care, and give their loved ones a better chance to age in place.
If you’re providing care to your spouse, we hope you found some information that will help your financial situation. To get more information about compensation or other resources available to California caregivers, contact us at the California Caregiver Resource Center nearest to you or join CareNav today.