caregiver2Tips for Hiring an In-Home Caregiver

If a disability is severe enough it may be wise to hire an in-home caregiver. If you are considering this idea, there are some things you should know to keep you out of trouble.

Basically there are two types of in-home caregivers. The first is someone you hire yourself and the second is an employee of a care-giving company with whom you have contracted. Both types of people have their pros and cons and you will need to decide which route to take.

 

Hiring a person yourself allows you the opportunity to carefully select the person whom you think will provide the best care. You can take time to ensure the caregiver matches the personality of you and/or the person to be cared for. This also means that if things don’t work out, it will be your unfortunate task to also fire them.

One of the main downsides to personally hiring a caregiver is the government paperwork that must be completed, along with the extra expense that comes along in the form of worker’s compensation, insurance for the employee and the employer’s share of Social Security taxes and unemployment tax. When you hire someone, the government considers you to be an employer and therefore, just like a business, you are responsible for all of the “extras” the government likes to throw at businesses (see IRS Publication 926 http://www.irs.gov/publications/p926/index.html). The average person will most likely require the services of an accountant or tax professional to make sure they file all of the correct forms and taxes on time as required. Just one note here, paying your caregiver unreported cash or “under the table” is illegal and could provide you with a term in prison. You might think that your new employee is a great friend and would never report the extra influx of cash, but don’t count on it. If the employee is performing heavy lifting and becomes injured you may be liable for paying the medical bills. An accountant can tell you which of your new expenses may be tax-deductible for you.

Contracting with a company to provide a caregiver may be easier for many people even though it can be more expensive. However, the trade-off for paying more can be reliability in that the company usually has replacements if someone gets sick, takes a vacation or suddenly quits. Many companies try to provide the same caregiver each day of work, but there still may be some rotation and, since everyone is different, this will bring new faces, habits and methods to get used to and requires that you train the new person to how you like tasks accomplished. Another pro of contracting with a care-giving company is that many of these companies will handle the payroll headaches for you and save you time figuring out taxes and government requirements.

Here are some tips should you decide to hire a care-giver on your own:

  • Ask for referrals from friends, relatives or other caregivers,
  • Conduct an initial interview over the phone to save you time in weeding out people who do not qualify,
  • Be sure to notify the potential employee that you will conduct work, credit, drivers and criminal background checks and then do so,
  • Be very clear upfront what the job requirements are and the expectations the employee will need to meet and make sure the person is capable of complying,
  • Hire the person on a trial basis of at least two weeks to make sure they match your needs, and
  • Have the employee sign each page of a document finely detailing the job description and expectations along with any particular do’s and don’ts for your situation.

Here are some tips should you decide to contract with a company:

  • Use a reputable company whose workers are employees of the company and the company is responsible for all taxes, worker’s compensation and other requirements,
  • Make sure the company’s employees are bonded, licensed and insured,
  • Retain the right to ask that an employee not return as a caregiver in the event personality or work ethics do not match yours,
  • Check to see if part or all of the expense may be paid by Medicaid, Medicare or private funding, and
  • Decide what responsibilities are truly needed by the caregiver and which you or another family member can perform to limit cost.

Having a disability that limits one’s ability to care for themselves can be extremely frustrating. A good caregiver can be a world of good and a positive light at a dark time. Hopefully some of the tips above can help you make a good decision when it comes time to hire an outside person.

 

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Recognized as one of the nation’s premier law firms, The Cochran Firm handles cases on behalf of clients seeking a Personal Injury Lawyer, Criminal Defense, Medical Malpractice, Bankruptcy Attorney in Atlanta or Social Security Disability Lawyer.The Firm can be reached at 1-800-THE-FIRM (1-800-843-3476) or fill out the form on this page. “Working for You.” Article by Benjamin A. Irwin, Esq.


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