The Right Way Vs. The Wrong Way
Often in life there is more than one way to do something. In most cases, the outcome is the same. But when you are dealing with legal matters, there is likely a “right way” and “wrong way”. The right way complies with the law and gets you the results the law intended and you have succeeded. The wrong way does not meet the requirements of the law and you have failure, or even worse, a violation of the law with possible penalties.
This applies frequently in situations where children are helping elderly parents cope with home care needs. One example is a child knocking herself out to take care of mom at home. The child spends hours each week preparing food, cleaning the house, making sure mom takes her medications, and perhaps helping bath her. That child may be taking time off from work, and losing pay, in order to make sure mom is safe. At some point, mom may insist that her child accept some payment to make up for the lost time at work. Months or years later, if mom needs to apply for Title 19, guess what may very well happen? The State of Connecticut may call this an improper transfer of assets to the daughter and penalize the mother by refusing to give her care paid for by Title 19 based on a penalty formula. And there is a law on the books that says the State could sue the child to recover the money. We can all agree this would be considered the “wrong way” to do things.
Now, let’s take the identical situation, where the child is giving her parent care, and is losing wages because of all the time taken off from work. But this child and parent have sought competent legal advice on how to handle compensation to the child. The Connecticut regulations for Title 19 allow a child, or any other person for that matter, to be paid for services rendered at the then prevailing rate if it is done with a written personal services contract. This does not mean that any old writing between parent and child will suffice.
It means a formal contract for personal services that the parent’s medical records would support. It also means that the compensation must be at the going rate for those services. The State won’t go along with $30 an hour for companion services, or $50 an hour for bathing mom, or gas money for mileage. The current going rate for companion care is about $10 per hour, and the rate for home health aides is about $20 per hour. A properly drawn contract, with the services actually delivered, and payment made in accordance with that contract, should result in acceptance by the Department of Social Services. This is the right way to accomplish the same thing, which is to get mom the care she needs without disqualifying her for Medicaid down the road and without putting the child at risk of having the State come after the child to get the money back.
It is usually advisable to keep a log of the daily or weekly hours put in. That way, the Department of Social Services can be given a record supporting the payments made for care given. And it is not only Title 19 (Medicaid) that is involved. It is also true for the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders, Level I and Level II, and the Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance, which programs provide either funds or care for your elderly parent, but which will require a formal contract.
So with your heart in the right place, wanting to keep mom or dad at home, and with the great effort you are making to accomplish that, think about the right way versus the wrong way, and get yourself and your parents on the right way by seeking competent counsel to meet the requirements of Connecticut law.