Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Laws Regarding Caregivers for Senior Citizens

Are you thinking about getting a caregiver, either for your aging parents, an ill spouse or yourself?  There are definite advantages to having a caregiver.  Since an estimated 90% of people over the age of 65 would like to stay in their own homes as long as possible as they age, a caregiver is often necessary in order to make this possible.

Caregivers can help with shopping, meal preparation, light housekeeping, dispensing medication, bathing, dressing and transportation.  Without this help, many individuals would need to move into assisted living in order to get the care they need.  Those who want to stay in their own homes benefit by having caregivers who come to their home and provide whatever services they need.

However, if you are going to have a caregiver in your home or the home of a relative, it is important that you know the law.

A Caregiver is an Employee, Not an Independent Contractor

According to the IRS, there is no such thing as a 1099 Independent Contractor Caregiver.  This means that a caregiver must either be hired by an agency or by the consumer, and become that consumer's employee.

If an agency employs the caregiver, they are responsible for meeting all the requirements and making sure that payroll taxes, worker's compensations, etc., are handled correctly.

If an individual hires someone to be a caregiver, they automatically become that person's employer.  They must make sure they are paying them the minimum wage for the first 40 hours a week or 9 hours a day that they work.  If they exceed either the daily or weekly maximum, they must pay their employee wages that are at least 1 1/2 times their normal hourly rate.  This is according to Federal Law.

In addition, a consumer who is hiring a caregiver as an employee immediately becomes responsible for handling workers' compensation insurance, income tax withholding, and all other payroll taxes.

Most health care providers believe that the cost is approximately the same whether you use an agency or employ the caregiver privately.  Using an agency requires far less paperwork, which could be an advantage as you get older.

Other Laws Affecting Caregivers

In addition, most states require that caregivers go through a certain amount of education and training.  While some of the programs may only take a few weeks, it is still important that you are certain the caregiver you use has received this training.

Most states also require that caregivers are licensed and registered with the appropriate state agency.

Be Sure You Comply with All Laws and Check References

It is extremely important that, whether you find a caregiver through an agency or on your own, you are complying with all the necessary laws.  The laws are there to protect both the employee and the person receiving the care.

In addition, take the time to check references and do background checks.  While there have been very few instances of a hired caregiver taking advantage of a patient, it has happened occasionally. This person will have complete access to the home and belongings of the person under their care.  You want to be sure they are someone you can trust.

If you are interested in more helpful retirement information, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this article to find links to hundreds of additional articles on medical issues that can arise, financial planning, where to retire, family relationships and more.

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1 comment:

  1. This is very interesting and I'm going to share it with a friend. She is acting as the caregiver for someone she's known for a few years but they haven't established guidelines for the arrangement. I don't think either of them realize the serious responsibilities and possible liabilities they are dealing.


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