What Is a Caregiver Child Exemption?

In this article...
  • The Medicaid Caregiver Exemption, also called the Caregiver Child Exemption, can be especially useful for older adults who have Medicaid. Learn how caregiver exemptions work and how eligible people can become certified caregivers and legally receive the exemption.

Around 53 million family caregivers in the United States provide essential physical and emotional care to someone who can no longer care for themselves. More than 1 in 5 people supports a family member in need, and this number has increased by roughly 9.5 million in the last five years. 

As the population ages, more people are becoming caregivers. If this applies to you, It’s essential to understand the caregiver child exemption. By understanding this rule, you can protect your family's assets and plan your loved one’s future.

What Is the Caregiver Child Exemption, and How Can It Help Your Elderly Parent?

The caregiver child exemption relates to the transfer of property assets under a Medicaid ruling. It means that once a senior individual moves into a nursing home or assisted living facility, they can transfer ownership of their home to an adult child who has cared for them.

Under the caregiver child exemption, the property transfer won’t violate Medicaid’s look-back period on asset transfers. In other words, Medicaid does not consider the home when assessing a qualifying individual’s application. 

Typically, Medicaid considers any assets transferred within the 60 months before applying for the program or 30 months in California. Transferring the home ensures the family can keep the property, rather than surrendering it to Medicaid to offset a parent’s care costs.

What Qualifies Someone as a Caregiver?

What defines someone as a caregiver under the caregiver child exemption differs from the standard definition. 

In common usage, a caregiver is someone who cares for an adult with health or functional needs. Conversely, under the caregiver child exemption, a caregiver is an adult child who lived in the parental home and cared for them for at least two years before the parent moved to a nursing home or assisted living facility. This care must be substantial enough to delay the senior person’s relocation.

Under the ruling, a caregiver must be a biological or adopted child. Therefore, stepchildren, foster children, grandchildren and other relatives are not eligible for the caregiver child exemption, even if they live in the senior person’s home and provide care. 

The home the qualifying caregiver lives in must be the senior person’s primary residence. These include condominiums, mobile homes and separate apartments in the same complex but do not include summer or vacation homes.

Activities that fall under significant and qualifying care may include:

  • Monitoring and administering medications, including refilling prescriptions
  • Preparing meals
  • Helping with communication, such as using a cellphone and sending emails
  • Doing housework, including washing dishes and vacuuming
  • Shopping
  • Providing transport or helping them use public transport
  • Helping with personal hygiene, including bathing and toileting
  • Dressing
  • Managing the parent’s finances, including paying bills and setting a budget
  • Keeping the person parent safe and healthy

Will the Government Pay Me to Take Care of My Mother or Father?

The government pays some individuals to care for their parents. However, the location, demographics and the parents’ status all determine if someone qualifies for payments. 

The government may pay you for the care you give your parent if:

  • Your parent is a United States military veteran
  • Your state or county has an Administration on Aging program that provides stipends or reimburses caregivers for expenses
  • Your state provides unemployment benefits for people who cannot work because of their child caregiving responsibilities
  • Your parent receives Medicaid, and your state lets them hire you for long-term care
  • Your state has a Structured Family Caregiving program, and the parent you live with is a Medicaid recipient who needs help with at least three of these five activities:

    • Dressing
    • Maintaining personal hygiene, including bathing and grooming
    • Using the toilet
    • Eating
    • Moving around

How Do I Become a Certified Caregiver for a Family Member?

You can become a certified caregiver by living in your parent’s home for two or more years directly before they receive assisted living or nursing home care. During that time, you must provide significant care that delays your parent’s relocation. 

To become a certified caregiver, you need documentation to prove:

  • Your relationship to the homeowner
    A birth certificate or adoption papers are sufficient.

  • The level of care you provided
    Keep a record of at least two years of care that prevented your parent from needing to move into a care home. Details may include when you started helping them dress or feed themselves or times their behavior was unsafe. Statutory declarations from other family members, friends, or neighbors and written statements from doctors or home nurses help support your claims.

  • You lived with the parent for at least two years before they moved into a care setting
    Evidence may include your driver’s license, utility bills, voter registration records and tax returns.

If you plan to use the caregiver exemption, it may be advisable to speak to an elder law attorney to help you prepare the required documents.

The Challenges of Care

Caring for parents as they age and the process of moving them to nursing homes or assisted living facilities can be stressful and overwhelming. However, understanding how the caregiver child exemption works and how individuals can qualify makes estate planning easier for all parties.

About the Author

Zia Sherrell is a digital health journalist with over a decade of healthcare experience, a bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Leeds and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Manchester. Her work has appeared in Netdoctor, Medical News Today, Healthline, Business Insider, Cosmopolitan, Yahoo, Harper's Bazaar, Men's Health and more.

When she’s not typing madly, Zia enjoys traveling and chasing after her dogs.

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