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How much do caregivers for individuals with disabilities earn?

Some individuals in Maryland rely on Social Security Disability Insurance benefits because a disability prevents the individual from working. It is also not unusual for such a disability to render an individual unable to completely care for themselves. The level of reliance on outside help can vary, but a large population of individuals living in Maryland with a disability does require assistance.

Many of these individuals and their families will seek the assistance of in-home care workers to spare the individual living in a nursing home. However, while most in-home care workers earn at least minimum wage, not all are guaranteed overtime pay. This is because there is an allowance for deviations from the federal minimum wage law for companions or casual babysitters to individuals that are ill or live with a disability.

Maryland, Washington D.C. and 20 other states already extend minimum wage to many in-home care workers. This is an important job, and may feel that the average yearly earnings of $21,830 is not enough for these workers. A possible revision to the Fair Labor Standards Act could require minimum wage and overtime pay for such workers across the country.

However, many remain skeptical that changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act will put more money in the pockets of these workers because employers will look to cut down on overtime costs by reducing hours. This could decrease yearly earnings, and possibly lead to higher turnover rates among in-home care workers.

The CEO of a Maryland staffing agency for in-home workers worries about such turnover rates, saying, “You want to keep consistency and continuity of care with the client because they’re most comfortable with that caregiver.”

He and others also worry that overtime expenses will drive up costs, and some families will no longer be able to afford in-home care, possibly driving more individuals with disabilities into nursing homes. The demand for in-home caregivers is expected to substantially increase in the coming years, so any changes and their ramifications remain to be seen.

Source: Disability Scoop, “Debate Persist Over Pay For Disability Caregivers,” Alvin Tran, May 9, 2013

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