The caregivers program provides benefits to caregivers caring for post 9/11 veterans and, as of 2020, Vietnam-era veterans.
VA benefits for caregivers are available to those who qualify and include both financial compensation and monthly stipends as well as support services.
VA benefits for caregivers is not a VA loan program, but instead provides financial assistance to eligible family members caring for service members or veterans with qualifying injuries that prevent them from living an independent life.
The VA caregiver program is a great way to provide support for veterans who need assistance with their everyday activities.
In this blog post, we will discuss the eligibility requirements and how to apply for the program. We will also take a look at the benefits that are available to caregivers.
If you are interested in applying for this program, or you want more information about it, keep reading!
Requirements for acceptance into the caregiver program
The caregivers program is made up of two phases: VA caregiver program phase one is made up of family caregivers of veterans who were seriously injured in the line of duty on or after May 7, 1975.
Phase two is made up of family caregivers of veterans who were seriously injured in the line of duty between May 7, 1975 and September 10, 2011.
There are three sections of the caregivers program: the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC), the VA Caregiver Support Program (VCSP), and The Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS).
The PCAFC program provides benefits to caregivers caring for post-911 veterans, and as of 2020, Vietnam-era veterans, while the VCSP program provides benefits to caregivers of veterans with qualifying injuries.
The PGCSS program provides support services to all caregivers, regardless of the veteran’s injury status.
To be accepted into the caregiver program both the veteran and caregiver must meet a certain set of requirements.
In order to be accepted into the VA caregiver program, you must meet the following requirements:
- The veteran must have a service-connected disability rating of 70% or higher.
- The veteran’s care needs must be rated as “substantially” due to their service-connected disability, and
- The veteran must have received six months of continuous, in-person personal care service.
What does veterans affairs classify as personal care services or Assisted Daily Living (ADL) services?
In-person personal care services means that the primary family caregiver is providing care to the veteran in their home.
This can include things like bathing, grooming, dressing, feeding, and transporting the veteran. VA will also consider services provided in a nursing home or assisted living facility as in-person personal care service if it is determined that the veteran receives more than 50% of their total care from the VA caregiver.
In order to be eligible for the VA caregiver program, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be at-least 18 years old
- Be an eligible person such as a spouse, child, parent, step-parent, step-child, or extended family member, and/or
- Live with the veteran full time and is designated as caregiver.
A secondary family caregiver may be eligible to receive VA benefits if the primary caregiver needs to be absent from the home.
The VA will require that all veterans seeking VA benefits for their care are examined by a medical professional.
This exam is known as a “Compensation and Pension” (C&P) examination. If you have not already received one, the VA will schedule you for one.
The C&P exam is used to determine the veteran’s level of care needs and whether or not their disability is service-connected.
It will also help the VA establish a baseline for future care.
In addition to the previously mentioned ADL’s the VA examiner will note:
- whether the veteran receives all their care at home,
- whether the veteran receives on-going care from a patient aligned team or other VA health care team,
- whether personal care services provided to the veteran by the caregiver cannot be preformed by others simultaneously, and
- how many hours of care the veteran will need per week.
The examiner will also assess any safety concerns, whether the veteran is prone to seizures, has difficulty with life planning, suffers from mental disorders or conditions, mood disorders, and or other conditions, or suffers from sleep irregularity.
VA Disability Rating
The VA disability rating is used to determine a veteran’s eligibility for the VA caregiver program.
The veterans health administration rates a veterans disability in the following ways:
- High dependance: full time dependent if caregiver assistance is needed 40 hours of care per week
- Moderate dependance: veteran needs up to 25 hours of care per week
- Low dependance: veteran needs 10 hours of care per week.
The VA will assign a rating based on the extent of the veteran’s service-connected disabilities.
In order to be eligible for the VA caregiver program, the veteran’s disability rating must be 70% or higher. In some cases, the VA may also consider the veteran’s age and income when assigning a rating.
How to apply for the caregiver program
The process of applying for VA benefits as a caregiver can be complicated, so it is important to seek help from a local caregiver support coordinator or an accredited representative or agent.
You can find a list of accredited representatives on the VA website or at your local va medical center.
The application process will require you to provide information about your veteran spouse or parent, as well as your own personal information.
Caregivers or veterans will need to fill out VA form 10-10CG or the application for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.
There are multiple ways to fill out your application for va health care benefits:
- Online at va.gov
- By mail
- In person at your local VA regional office
A veteran can appoint up to one primary caregiver and up to two secondary caregivers.
Benefits available for caregivers
If you are approved to be a VA family caregiver, there are a number of benefits that you will be able to receive.
These benefits include:
- Monthly stipend paid directly to the caregiver
- Access to the VA medical program
- Training and education opportunities
- Mental health services and mental health counseling
- Respite care services
- Travel expenses
The VA calculates the monthly stipend based on a set formula. The stipend amount can change depending on the veteran’s disability rating and care needs.
The VA will multiply the number of hours of care per week that the veteran receives by the Labor Statistics hour wage for home health care aides.
The VA will then round up to the nearest dollar and multiply this number by 52. VA has set the hourly wage for home health care aides at $16.50 per hour as of January 2016 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).
Tips and tricks for a smooth approval process
When applying for benefits as a caregiver, it is important to bear in mind that the VA has specific requirements.
There are several things you can do to increase your chances of being approved by VA:
- Have a VA examiner certify your veteran needs caregiving services and have him or her complete an assessment form. This will help VA to better understand the level of care your veteran needs.
- Be sure to provide accurate and complete information in your application. VA will not approve an application that is incomplete or inaccurate.
- Get help from a VA-accredited representative or agent when filling out your application. This will ensure that everything is done correctly and increases the chances of a successful application.
- Stay organized and keep all of your paperwork in one place. This will make it easier for VA to review your application and determine eligibility.
- If you have any questions about the VA caregiver program or how to apply, be sure to contact a caregiver support coordinator or the department of veterans affairs for more information.
Types of disabilities and scenarios that might require a caregiver
- Traumatic brain injury
- Mental Disorder
- Anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns.
- Service connected disabilities that require assistance such as blindness and deafness or loss of limb.
- The inability to preform ADLs like bathing, dressing, and eating meals.
Understanding the VA Caregiver Stipend Program
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a special program called the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) which offers support to those who are primary caregivers for eligible Veterans.
Who Can Benefit?
- A Veteran or a member of the Armed Forces who is getting a medical discharge.
- They must have an injury or illness they got or worsened while they were in the military, naval, or air service.
- This injury or illness should be serious enough that they can’t do daily tasks without help, need someone to watch over them, or need a lot of guidance for daily living.
- The program should be the best option for them.
- Other individuals or groups should not be already providing the care the Veteran needs.
- They should be getting care at home or will if they get a caregiver from VA.
- They should be seeing a Primary Care Team or will if they get a caregiver from VA.
How Much Support Can Caregivers Get?
The VA offers a monthly payment, called a stipend, to Primary Family Caregivers. This amount depends on where the Veteran lives and their needs. As an example, in Dallas, Texas, for 2022:
- Level One Caregivers could get around $1,818.54 monthly.
- Level Two Caregivers, caring for Veterans who really can’t live by themselves, could get approximately $2,909.67 monthly.
These rates can change each year. If there’s a change, the new stipend amount will start either on January 1st or the beginning of the month after the change is announced.
In case there’s an overpayment, which means if the VA pays a caregiver more money than they should have, the VA will ask for it back. Caregivers will get a letter with all the details and what they can do if they don’t agree.
If you need more information or help:
- Check online at www.caregiver.va.gov
- Call the VA Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274.
- For questions about the stipend payment, call the Office of Community Care at 1-877-733-7927 or check the VA community care website.
How Can My Spouse Become My Caregiver?
Having a loved one, especially a spouse, as a caregiver can make a significant difference in a veteran’s life.
Here’s how your spouse can become your caregiver through the VA’s PCAFC:
- Eligibility Check: First and foremost, make sure you, the veteran, meet the eligibility criteria as listed in the previous section.
- Application: Your spouse can then apply to be your Primary Family Caregiver. This involves filling out a VA form and submitting it for review.
- Training: Once approved, your spouse will undergo training to ensure they are well-equipped to provide the necessary care. This training typically covers essential caregiving skills and information about available resources.
- Evaluation: The VA will then evaluate both your needs as a veteran and your spouse’s ability as a caregiver. This process ensures that your spouse can provide the level of care you require.
- Ongoing Support: Once your spouse becomes your caregiver, the VA provides continuous support, resources, and education to help them in their role. This includes a stipend, access to health care benefits, and mental health services.
Remember, while having a spouse as a caregiver has many emotional and practical benefits, it’s essential to ensure that it’s the right choice for both the veteran and the spouse.
The demands of caregiving can be intense, so it’s crucial to have open communication and access to the many resources the VA provides.
Caregiving is hard work and the VA understands the difficulties that you may go through when caring for a veteran with disabilities.
The VA wants to make sure caregivers get the support they need, which is why VA offers benefits for caregivers of veterans who are enrolled in VA health care.
If you or someone you know needs help taking care of a veteran, the VA may be able to help.
VA benefits for caregivers are available through the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers .
This program provides financial assistance and other services to qualified family caregivers of eligible veterans. If you think you might qualify, contact VA today at (800) 424-8867 or visit the VA online.
Have Questions About Understanding How the Claims Process Works?
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However, if you are considering filing an initial claim, or even if you are interested in learning about the appeals process, we offer a free ebook to get you started on the right foot!
The Road to VA Compensation Benefits will help break down the claims process from start to finish. Click the link below to learn more.
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