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Veterans, Active Duty, and Military Families

 

VA: Veteran Caregivers Will Not Lose Benefits During Reassessment Period

Eligibility under review ahead of expansion of caregiving program to all veterans

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) assured veterans and their caregivers currently enrolled in its caregiver support program that they would not be dropped from the caregiving benefit while the department reexamines its eligibility requirements. 

Those currently enrolled in the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC), also referred to as “legacy” participants, feared the reassessment period could result in a loss, pause or decrease in benefits that can add up to thousands of dollars a month for some qualified caregivers.​

“We will not remove anyone from the program or decrease any support before we reexamine our current eligibility criteria,” said Donald Remy, VA deputy secretary, during a press conference. ​

The reexamination is being prompted by the planned expansion of the caregiving benefit to caregivers of veterans who served between May 7, 1975, and Sept. 10, 2001, effective in October. Until now, caregivers of veterans from that period were not eligible for the PCAFC program.​

Remy added, “There are veterans with moderate to severe caregiving needs who are unable to be admitted into the program or remain in the program as the regulations currently are. ... That’s simply not what we want.”


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Although he could not provide an exact time frame as to when the VA would finalize its eligibility criteria, Remy maintained that veterans of all eras would be able to apply for the PCAFC starting in October.​

“We’re going to complete those legacy reassessments and, based on those evaluations, any caregiver eligible for an increase in caregiver benefits will receive that increase,” he said. ​

Who is eligible for the caregiver benefit? ​

Caregivers of veterans who served during the Vietnam War and earlier and those who were severely injured on or after Sept. 11, 2001, are already eligible for a monthly payment, among other benefits from the VA. The veteran must have a service-connected disability rating of 70 percent and require personal care for a minimum of six continuous months to qualify. ​

On Oct. 1, eligibility will expand to include veterans injured between May 7, 1975, and Sept. 10, 2001 — meaning the benefit will now be open to all veterans, regardless of age and era of service. ​

Disability ratings are assigned by the VA based on the severity of an illness and how much it decreases a veteran’s overall health and ability to function. The higher the rating, the more severe the disability.​

Monthly payments are set by a federal rate assigned to where a veteran lives. For example, a primary family caregiver of a veteran in Dallas who is unable to perform daily living activities or requires continuous supervision would receive approximately $2,800 a month. If the veteran can perform daily living activities, the caregiver would receive about $1,750 a month.​

Other services offered to caregivers include access to health care benefits, caregiver education, financial assistance, mental health services and up to 30 days of respite care.

​To learn more, contact the nearest VA caregiver support coordinator (CSC) or call the VA’s Caregiver Support Line  at 855-260-3274 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET).​

Aaron Kassraie writes about issues important to military veterans and their families for AARP. He also serves as a general assignment reporter. Kassraie previously covered U.S. foreign policy as a correspondent for the Kuwait News Agency’s Washington bureau and worked in news gathering for USA Today and Al Jazeera English.