What Goes into a Caregiver Contract?

September 21, 2009

If as a parent and child, you have agreed that the child will care for her parent in exchange for compensation, you need to work with an elder law attorney to draft a caregiver contract, as discussed in earlier posts.

What will your attorney put into the contract? She will list details of the care to be provided, ranging from the hands-on care, meal preparation, shopping, laundry, to the right to a private room and evening quiet hours. Most likely, the attorney will bring in a geriatric care manager to develop a thorough care plan, and the attorney will incorporate the terms of that plan into the contract.

Rate of pay will be included. Can you just ask your parent to pay whatever salary you would like? No. The rate will be based on comparable work performed by professional agencies in your geographic area, such as home health care agencies.

The attorney will also help you arrange for the appropriate payroll deductions, such as Social Security and worker’s compensation.

Beware of trying to write a caregiver contract on your own – this contract will very likely be scrutinized in the future by MassHealth, Social Security, and the IRS. Avoid issues with these agencies later by working with an elder law attorney now to draft an appropriate contract.

Helping an SSI Recipient (or Anyone) Manage Money

September 14, 2009

Filed under: Adult Disabled Child — Tags: , , , — Alexis @ 10:58 AM

Do you help someone manage their money? Perhaps you are a representative payee on the Social Security checks of an SSI recipient? Or maybe you are the trustee of a special needs trust?

Would the person whose money you manage – let’s call her the recipient – like to have some cash in her pocket for small purchases of her own?

There is an interesting new debit card that can give you the best of both worlds, the Mastercard Allow Card. The premise is that as the trustee or the representative payee, you would put some amount on the card every month, let’s say $200. You would also fill out a lengthy questionnaire, detailing what purchases can and cannot be made with the debit card.

So if, for example, you are managing Social Security funds for an SSI recipient, you know that her SSI checks are meant to be spent on food and shelter. You would allow the debit card to be used for those purchases, but you would, perhaps, block it from being used for buying video games or cigarettes.

Likewise, if you are the trusee of a special needs trust, you know that those funds are not to be used for food or shelter. You would set up the card to reject any attempted purchases of snacks or groceries. And you would allow the card to accept purchases of books, movie tickets, etc.

As the person filling out the questionnaire, you have discretion to set up the purchasing rules as you feel is appropriate. And at the same time, it gives the recipient the independence, satisfaction, and pride of knowing that she can walk into a store and take care of herself.

There are fees associated with both cards, you will need to investigate both and see if this is the right for your situation. Special thanks to Jack Longert of the Wisconsin Pooled and Community Trusts for teaching me about this.