VA provides several benefits to caregivers of some severely injured veterans.
A caregiver can be a parent, spouse, child, step-family member, extended family member, or an individual who lives with the veteran, but is not a family member who provides support to the veteran.
What Is The Eligibility Rule?
Caregivers must be providing in-home care for veterans who:
- Have a serious injury – including traumatic brain injury, psychological trauma or other mental disorder.
- Need of personal care services because of an inability to perform one or more activities of daily living and/or need supervision or protection based on symptoms or residuals of neurological impairment or injury.
The veteran must be enrolled in the VA healthcare program, and the injury must be service-connected.
Upcoming Changes to the Caregiver Program
Currently, only caregivers of veterans who suffered a qualifying injury on or after Sep. 11, 2001 are eligible for this program. Effective Oct. 1, 2020 eligibility for the program will expand to veterans with service before May 5, 1975 and at least a 70% disability. Also on that date the amount of the monthly stipend will change.
VA will pay different monthly amounts to caregivers of veterans who suffer from different levels of disability. Level 1 payments will go to caregivers of veterans who need substantial care but are more capable than the most disabled cohort; and Level 2, payments will go to caregivers of veterans who cannot "self-sustain in the community," meaning they require continuous supervision and help with three or more daily activities. The payments will vary based on the location where the veteran lives.
Those currently enrolled in the program and those with a pending application will be reassessed under the new eligibility criteria over the next year. If a reassessment results in an increased stipend, the veteran and their caregiver would receive the new amount, as well as a lump sum of retroactive pay back to Oct. 1, 2020. If the assessment determines the veteran is eligible for a decreased amount, the VA will give them notice by Oct. 2, 2021, and the decrease would go into effect "no earlier than 60 days" after they receive the notice.
For veterans who are currently enrolled but deemed during the reassessment to be ineligible under the new criteria, the VA will inform the veteran at or around Oct. 1, 2021, and their benefits would continue for 90 days following discharge from the program.
As part of the assessment, the VA will examine the level of activity veterans can do themselves each day, taking into account whether they can dress themselves, bathe, groom themselves, adjust a prosthetic or orthotic device on their own, go to the bathroom without assistance, feed themselves or need help moving around their homes.
The program will undergo another expansion on Oct. 1, 2022, to include combat veterans who served between 1975 and Sept. 11, 2001.
Services Available to Caregivers Through This Program
Caregivers of eligible veterans can receive:
- 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 provided by Easter Seals
- Respite care (not less than 30 days per year)
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