For many older adults, finding quality in-home non-medical care is necessary and can be challenging. In-home caregivers provide assistance with daily activities including, but not limited to, meal preparation, dressing and personal grooming, medication reminders, transportation, and light housekeeping. Caregiving services do not typically include medical services provided by skilled nurses and licensed professionals (check your state requirements) and caregivers should not perform therapeutic or complex health-care tasks, also known as home health services.
Programs such as Medicare, often cover home health services but do not cover non-medical caregiving services. However, some long-term care insurance policies may cover non-medical in-home care, so check your policy carefully to determine coverage.
Finding a Caregiver
Often, the best way to find an in-home caregiver is through referrals from health care professionals or from others who have used an in-home caregiver. You can either hire a caregiver through an agency or hire a freelance caregiver directly.
Many healthcare professionals recommend using an agency to hire a caregiver. The agency handles training as well as acts as the caregiver’s employer, covering payroll taxes, Worker’s Compensation, and Liability insurance. If you’re going the agency route, ask about the agency’s turnover rate, how they handle backup assistance in case your caregiver is ill or needs time off, their training practices, as well as background checks and certifications.
1099 Caregiver Liability
1099 caregivers can often be found through referrals, via newspaper advertisements, or online and are often less expensive than agency caregivers. However, hiring a 1099 caregiver could create unexpected liabilities and safety issues for your family, including even putting you in the situation of being an employer who is responsible for employment taxes, insurance and worker’s compensation, tax withholdings, benefits such as Social Security and Medicare, and payroll taxes.
You may wish to hire a 1099 caregiver as an independent contractor, but be cautious. In many cases, freelance caregivers do not qualify as independent contractors according to tax and labor laws, so be sure to discuss your situation with your lawyer and CPA to determine their status. With independent contractors, you can only tell them what you want, and not how to do it without stepping into the role of “employer.”
Other Tips When Hiring 1099 Caregivers
- You’ll need to file a 1099 form with the IRS on wages over $600 per year, and the caregiver will be responsible for her own taxes and benefits.
- Be sure to perform a thorough background check before hiring a 1099 / freelance caregiver and look for previous criminal convictions and other safety concerns. Check references, verify previous work history as well as appropriate training in elder care, and verify certifications.
- It is important to verify that your caregiver can legally work in the United States. Keep an I-9 form on file since fines ranging from $250 to $2,000 can be imposed on those who hire illegal immigrants.
- Have a written agreement with the caregiver to avoid potential wage and labor disputes. You’ll also want to consider arranging backup assistance in case your caregiver is ill, has an emergency, or needs time off.
- Work-related injuries may not be covered by your homeowner’s insurance, although live-in caregivers may be considered tenants if they use your home as their main residence. There is typically no insurance available to cover yourself against freelance caregivers who commit theft or negligence. You’ll also want to get liability insurance to cover accidents.
For simplicity and peace of mind, you may want to use a direct-hire service that pre-screens caregivers. Using this type of service does not relieve you of your responsibilities as an employer, but it can give you peace of mind that you’re hiring a quality caregiver who is properly trained and eligible to work.
You want a caregiver to relieve the burden on you, not create more work for you to do. Let us help you get the care your loved one needs. Give us a call today at (602) 845.4545.