What Benefits Are Offered by VA’s Caregiver Program?
About the VA Mission Act of 2018
The VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act, or VA Mission Act, was fully implemented on June 6, 2019. This $52 billion bill overhauls veterans’ access to private healthcare, including urgent care and caregiver benefits, nationwide. Specifically, the VA Mission Act expands private healthcare access for veterans who experience long wait times at their VA provider or are too far away from their VA healthcare provider to conveniently receive care at those facilities. Importantly, the VA Mission Act also expands VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (Caregiver Program).
What is the Caregivers Program?
VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers was implemented in 2011 to provide benefits to caregivers of post-9/11 disabled veterans. Caregivers are often spouses or family members who end up leaving their jobs to care for a veteran full-time due to the extent or nature of that veteran’s disability. Common disabilities that can require full-time care include, but are not limited to, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other disabilities such as loss of limbs. The Caregivers Program provides the caregivers of post-9/11 veterans with monthly compensation, medical training, healthcare benefits, and respite. VA also acknowledges that caregivers play a critical role in the health and well-being of veterans.
Expansion of Caregiver Program
As mentioned above, the VA Mission Act expanded the Caregivers Program by providing benefits to caregivers of pre-9/11 veterans in addition to post-9/11 veterans, and provide oversight for underperforming VA medical facilities. This expansion of benefits to include eligible veterans from all eras of service will be implemented over the course of several years, mainly in two phases:
- Phase 1: caregiver benefits will first become available to veterans who were injured on or before May 7, 1975
- Phase 2: further expansion of caregiver benefits to include veterans injured between 1975 and 2001 will occur two years later
Importantly, eligibility and compensation determinations will continue to be made by Veterans Healthcare Administration (VHA) and caregivers still reserve the right to appeal adverse decisions.
Services Available to Caregivers in Caregiver Program
Through the Caregivers Program, caregivers of eligible veterans can receive the following:
- Monthly stipend
- Travel expenses (including lodging and per diem while accompanying veterans undergoing care)
- Access to health care insurance (if the caregiver is not already entitled to care or services under a health care plan)
- Mental health services and counseling
- Comprehensive VA Caregiver training
- Respite care (not less than 30 days per year)
To apply for Caregiver Program benefits, veterans must fill out and submit VA Form 10-10CG, Instructions for Completing Application for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.
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