Need guidance: daughter caring for widow of Army officer

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Carol909, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. Carol909

    Carol909 Newbie

    I moved into my parents' home several years ago to help care for my father (retired Army officer) when he became ill. My father passed three years ago, and my mother has now become so disabled that I no longer feel safe leaving her alone for long, so I haven't worked a real job in over a year.

    I understand that this situation may qualify my mother for assistance in paying for her care -- but I have never actually been PAID as a caregiver for either of my parents. I am "paid" only in the sense that (aside from a part-time job during the first year after my father's death) my parents have provided all my shelter, food, clothing, medical care, transportation, and other needs. Obviously this SHOULD count, but -- does it?

    And if so, then would my tax return from last year, showing that I had zero income, serve to document that my mother is essentially "paying" me to live with and care for her?

    I have waited too long to look into this -- we're on the verge of losing the house now, and I have no recourse but to start working a real job again, even though it will compromise my mother's wellbeing. But if I do get an outside job now, how will that affect her application for aid? Does the VA understand that, so to speak, ya gotta do what ya gotta do?

    Obviously, I'm in trouble here and really need your guidance. Thank you so much for any wisdom you can share.
  2. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member


    You are in a difficult situation here from a timeframe standpoint.

    The providing of clothing, food, shelter etc. does not count as payment. For VA purposes, your parents would have had to actually paid you as their caregiver in order to have allowable medical expenses to claim.

    With regards to your taxes, you would file on what you actually made. If that's zero, then there is nothing to claim. If your parents had actually paid you, then that would have been earned income, and you would need to report it. The VA works very closely with the IRS when it comes to end of the year reporting.

    The VA does not look at "ya gotta do what ya gotta do". The look at whether the applicant qualifies physically and financially. If your mom is not paying for care whether that is someone coming in, a family member, or assisted living facility, then she cannot claim those medical expenses, which will make it difficult to demonstrate a need for this pension. Someone has to be taking care of her and being paid to do so.

    You need to do a search on these forms for "countable income" and use that formula to help you better understand what counts as a medical deduction and to determine if she qualifies financially.

    I'm sorry that your situation at the moment seems so dire, and hope you can figure out what is best for you and your mom.
  3. swainlaw

    swainlaw Newbie

    You must be paid for it to be a valid medical expenses and you must document what you are doing for her. You also must use a Medicaid compliant personal caregiver agreement or contract so the payments do not disqualify her from Medicaid coverage. It may cost some money to meet with an attorney that specializes in Medicaid and knows VA pension but you must as it can be very profitable to you and her if you can qualify for the Pension and protect her Medicaid eligibility. It will be a disaster if things are not handled correctly.

    If your mother's medical supplement is not with Tricare for life you are making a big mistake. Tricare for life is the retired military healthcare system. It is one of the best healthcare programs. There is nursing home care if your mother needs skilled care not custodial care. So she may never need medicaid but she still could so you have to protect her qualifiication.

    I bring this up because I have seen many retired military that are paying for a medical supplement policy and they are not aware of Tricare.
  4. Bluebonnet

    Bluebonnet Newbie

    Swainlaw, Could you please clarify what Tricare covers regarding skilled nursing care? Is this the same as what Medicare covers? (I think it only covers 120 days max after they are released from the hospital?) Does it ever cover anything more "long term"?

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