Social Security benefits serve people other than retirees. Based on the recipient’s work record, a spouse and certain dependents can also tap the benefit pool. Workers who have paid into the system, and their dependents, can also receive benefits in the case of a disabling medical condition. Additionally, benefits are available for a spouse and age-qualified dependents in the event of the death of a wage earner who paid into the Social Security system during his working years. However, the Social Security Act provides no benefits to pay for caretakers of the medically disabled Social Security retiree.
Finding a Caretaker
While Social Security does not have a benefit program to pay a caregiver for a medically disabled recipient, there are no restrictions on how the recipient uses his benefit funds. Therefore, the recipient may use his Social Security check to hire a person to assist him. The Social Security Administration suggests that you look to local social service agencies to find and employ a caregiver. You can also get in touch with the community action agency serving your area for assistance. If you have limited funds, these organizations may have resources that can help pay for a caregiver.
Your spouse may assume the role of caregiver if you need assistance because of a medical disability. If he is 62 or older, he may retire early and get his reduced Social Security benefit based on his work record, or if he has not worked long enough to accrue credits for benefits, he can draw benefits off your work record. Even though this is not considered a benefit for a caretaker, it may free him from responsibilities outside the home to care for your medical necessities.
Supplemental Security Income
If the medically disabled Social Security recipient has limited resources, he may qualify for financial support from the federal government’s Supplemental Security Income program. SSI provides a monthly check to those age 65 or older who meet certain income guidelines. There is no requirement attached to how the funds are used, so the recipient may use these monies to contract and pay for a caregiver. Certain individuals under the age of 65 who are blind or disabled and have limited funds may also qualify for the program.
If the medically disabled person has a representative payee who handles his Social Security income, the representative payee may make an informed decision about hiring a caretaker for the person he assists. If funds are not available through social services agencies, the representative payee can use funds from the medically disabled individual’s Social Security check to hire a caregiver as long as the disabled person’s primary needs have already been met. If a caregiver is hired, the representative payee should document all fees paid and keep the corresponding receipts.