Caregiver Choices

Most seniors prefer to stay at home as long as possible before moving into a nursing home. For many families, this means eventually hiring a caregiver to look after an aging relative. Caregivers can be hired directly or through a home health agency.

When a caregiver is hired directly, you need to consider all of the tax and liability issues. As an employer, you are responsible for filing payroll taxes, tax forms and verifying that the employee can legally work in the United States. In Illinois, if you pay $2000 or more in wages in 2016 to any one employee, you need to withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. Unemployment insurance contributions must be made if you paid cash wages of $1000 or more in any calendar quarter during 2016 or 2015. Insurance for an accident which occurs on the job should also be addressed.

The benefit of hiring a caregiver directly is that you have more control over who you hire and can choose someone who you feel is right for your family. In addition, hiring privately is usually cheaper than hiring through a home health agency.

When you hire through a home health agency, the agency is the employer, so you do not need to address the tax and liability issues. The agency takes care of screening the employees, doing background checks and providing insurance. A licensed home care agency must provide ongoing supervision to its employees. It can help the employees deal with difficult family situations or changing needs. The agency may also be able to provide back-up if a regular caregiver is not available.

The downside of going through an agency is not having as much input into the selection of a caregiver. Caregivers may change or alternate, causing a disruption in care and confusion.Consult your estate planning attorney for further information.

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