Ask Mike - Getting paid for taking care of my mother-in-law

Dear Mike,

I am writing to find out of there is a payment program available in Wisconsin to help off set the costs of caring for my mother-in-law. She had a stroke just over a year ago. She requires 24 hour care in her home. My husband and I have moved our family in with her to help her pay her bills and mortgage. Since her insurance does not cover in home nursing care and she cannot afford to pay anybody for caring for her, I have had to leave my full time job to care for her. We are also pretty sure between her social security benefits and her widowers pension that she makes too much money per month to qualify for medicaid. Is there anything we can do to get paid for taking care of her? I am spending 50+ hours per week just taking care of her and my husband does the rest. Please let us know if you have any suggestions.

Thank you.

Wondering in Wisconsin

Dear Wondering in Wisconsin,

Thanks for writing! Your mother-in-law had a stroke and needs a lot of assistance. You are concerned that between Social Security and her "widower's pension", her income is too high for Medicaid. You quit your full time job to care for her because her insurance doesn't cover in-home services and she cannot afford to pay for what she needs out-of-pocket. Additionally, you and your husband moved in with her to help her pay the mortgage and other bills. You want to know if there is any way for you to be paid for assisting her.

You describe a situation that is all too common. I do have a couple of ideas to share with you. First of all, it would certainly be fair for your mother-in-law to pay you for part of the assistance you are providing. Even a small, partial amount is better than nothing. You mentioned helping to pay her mortgage. Have you considered a reverse mortgage in order to gain some liquidity? If she has some equity built up in her home, then she very well may be able to obtain a sizable sum of money that could be used to pay you or others so you can go back to work (outside the home). Your bank may be familiar with reverse mortgages. Likewise, many state Aging Agencies and/or Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) are a source of assistance with reverse mortgages. The PAS Center can assist you with getting in touch with these entities. Got to www.pascenter.org Next, click on "State Information" located at the top of menu on the left side of the homepage. Next, click on "Agencies Related to PAS" which is the third selection down from the top of list. Next, click on "Wisconsin" on the USA map. The next page contains the selections "State Unit on Aging" (third from the top) and "Aging and Disability Resource Center" located at the bottom of the list. Use the contact information provided to ask about reverse mortgages, or any other options that may be available to you.

The second idea is to explore any other options, including state funded programs, Medicaid and if there are any sliding scale programs or programs with a co-pay. You may be correct in your assumption about Medicaid, but you may as well be certain about any, and all, options, including Medicaid. Some programs have fairly generous income eligibility guidelines. It is worth checking to see what Wisconsin offers. You should explore these kinds of possibilities with the entities mentioned, above, and you should check with the State Medicaid Agency, as well. Follow the instructions outlined previously. Note that "Medicaid Agency" is at the top of the list on the last page you encounter.

I hope you find something that benefits you and your family. Good luck!

Mike Oxford

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