In November 2023, the Lowering Costs for Caregivers Act of 2023 was introduced, which has been endorsed by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). An AARP survey found that people taking care of a loved one spend an average of more than $7,200 a year out of their own pocket.
The proposed Lowering Costs for Caregivers Act of 2023 seeks to provide financial relief for unpaid family caregivers. This bipartisan effort would lessen the costs of ffamily caregivers.
If the act becomes law, it would allow medical bills and health expenses that you pay for your parents and/or parents-in-law to count as qualifying medical expenses for health flexible spending arrangements or health reimbursement arrangements.
FLEXIBLE SPENDING & HEALTH REIMBURSEMENT ACCOUNTS
Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) allow individuals to set aside pre-tax money to pay for qualifying medical expenses. Only employers provide funding for HRAs. However, both employers and employees can fund FSAs.
Current legislation allows funds to cover the account holder’s medical expenses, and the expenses for their spouses and dependents. The current law does not allow people to use their accounts to pay for their parents’ or parent-in-law’s medical care.
By allowing use of FSAs or HRAs for parents’ health expenses, the Lowering Costs for Caregivers Act aims to help reduce some of the costs of caregiving.
THE FINANCIAL COSTS OF CAREGIVING
The proposed legislation addresses the ever-increasing costs facing the 38 million unpaid family caregivers in the United States.
One 2021 survey by AARP revealed the economic toll of caregiving. Over three-quarters of caregivers report incurring routine out-of-pocket costs. Caregiving expenses consume more than ¼ of unpaid caregivers’ annual income. More than half of these funds typically goes to housing such as rent, mortgage payments, assisted living fees, and home modifications for safety and mobility.
Medical costs can also be significant. The caregivers in AARP’s survey spent an average of more than $1,200 annually on health care expenses- ⅕ of their spending. Medical costs can consist of direct payments to health care providers, hospitals, and therapists, as well as medical equipment, in-home care, and more.
Six out of ten caregivers work either full or part-time jobs in addition to caregiving. Working while being a caregiver can create financial strain.
HOW CAREGIVERS CAN REDUCE EXPENSES
There are several effective strategies that can help caregivers save money.
CLAIM A PARENT AS A DEPENDENT
When you claim a parent as a dependent, you can receive a credit on your income taxes. For 2023, the maximum tax credit is $500. To be eligible for the credit, your parent, step-parent, or in-law must not make more than $4,700. You must provide more than half of the financial support for the parent in a calendar year. You may qualify for the tax credit if you are the primary caregiver and source of financial support.
HELP YOUR LOVED ONE APPLY FOR FEDERAL & STATE BENEFITS
Another strategy to relieve the financial pressure of caregiving is helping your loved one apply for federal and state benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is available to people with limited income and resources who have a disability, are blind, or are 65 and older. Participants receive a monthly benefit, which can help cover food and living costs. If your aging loved one lives with you and receives SSI, you could charge them rent, which could help cover your household expenses.
EXPLORE MULTI-GENERATIONAL LIVING
Multi-generational family living can reduce costs for your family. Consider having a loved one move in with you. This could reduce both of your expenses – your loved one’s housing costs and your household expenses.
WORK WITH A QUALIFIED ELDER LAW ATTORNEY
When exploring ways to relieve the financial weight of caregiving, it can be beneficial to have an advocate by your side. Seeking and working with a qualified elder law attorney can help you create a well-structured and sustainable plan for your cherished family member. With this in mind, you should meet with us, as your Lawyer for Life, to discuss your specific caregiving needs, so we can help you with finding the right solution to ensure you and your loved ones can have the necessary caregiving funds.
Bromlow Law, PLLC and Laura L. Bromlow, are dedicated to the practice of Elder Law and Estate Planning. Our practice focuses solely on working with clients in these and closely related legal fields. Laura L. Bromlow is a Certified Elder Law Attorney with the National Elder Law Foundation. Bromlow Law, PLLC strives to enhance communication among family members and loved ones and to keep them all out of conflict so they can stay out of court. We want to help you keep your close circle safe!
Please contact our office today at (281) 665-3807 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal matters. We look forward to the opportunity to work with you.