Who Qualifies as a Caregiver Under Medicare Rules?

Today, we’re diving into the intricate world of caregiving and Medicare. Just like Sarah, a 65-year-old retiree who recently became a caregiver for her husband, you might be wondering about the financial aspects of caregiving. What does Medicare cover? Who qualifies as a caregiver? If you’ve been through this maze of paperwork and policies, please share your experiences in the comments below.

What Is a Caregiver?

A caregiver is someone who provides assistance to another person who is unable to perform certain activities or tasks on their own due to physical or mental limitations. Sarah, for instance, helps her husband with medication management and emotional support.


  • About 53 million Americans serve as unpaid caregivers to adults with disabilities or illnesses.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 caregivers (19%) have provided care for more than 5 years.

What Services Does Caregiving Include?

Caregiving can include a wide range of services. Sarah helps her husband with:

  • Personal care (bathing, dressing)
  • Meal preparation
  • Medication management
  • Transportation
  • Emotional support

Who Qualifies as a Caregiver?

Sarah found that to qualify as a caregiver under Medicare rules, you generally need to be a family member or a legal guardian of the person receiving care. But what if you’re a close friend? You might still be eligible under certain caregiver assistance programs, but you’ll need to jump through some legal hoops.


  • Only 12% of caregivers are not family members.
  • 34% of caregivers are age 65 or older.

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Does Medicare Pay for Caregivers?

Sarah discovered that Medicare can cover some caregiver expenses, but it’s not as straightforward as you might think. Medicare primarily focuses on medical needs rather than daily living needs. So, if you’re helping someone with medication or wound care, you’re more likely to receive financial support from Medicare.

What Exactly Does Medicare Cover?

Sarah learned that Medicare is quite specific about what it covers. It generally pays for skilled nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology services. But here’s the catch: these services must be prescribed by a doctor and provided by Medicare-certified agencies. So, you can’t just hire your neighbor Bob, who happens to be a retired nurse, and expect Medicare to foot the bill.


  • Medicare spent approximately $702 billion on healthcare services in 2020.
  • About 15% of that budget was allocated for home health care services.

What Isn’t Covered by Medicare?

Sarah was disappointed to find out that Medicare doesn’t cover 24-hour home care, meal delivery, or personal care like bathing and dressing. It’s crucial to understand these limitations so you can plan accordingly.

Steps to Medicare Approval

Navigating Medicare approval can be like solving a complex puzzle. Sarah followed these steps:

  1. Obtain legal documents for caregivers, such as a power of attorney.
  2. Complete all the necessary caregiver paperwork, which can include medical records and care plans.
  3. Consult with a healthcare provider for an assessment. This is crucial for determining the level of care needed and whether it falls under what Medicare will cover.

How Much Do Caregivers Get Paid?

Sarah found that the payment varies by state and the type of care provided. On average, caregivers can expect to earn between $10 to $25 per hour. But if you’re providing specialized medical care, you could earn more.


  • The median hourly wage for caregivers is $13.50.
  • 22% of caregivers report financial strain due to caregiving responsibilities.

Are Caregiver Expenses Tax Deductible in 2023?

Good news! Caregiver tax deductions are available in 2023. You can deduct medical expenses, including some caregiver expenses.


Just ask Sarah, a 65-year-old retiree who recently became a caregiver for her husband. She navigated the maze of Medicare rules and found that she qualified for some financial assistance. It wasn’t easy, but she got there.



  1. National Alliance for Caregiving. (2021). Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 Report.
  2. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2023). Medicare Expenditure Report.
  3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides.

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