Are you a veteran receiving care assistance from a family member or friend for a service connected disability? Did you know that the VA provides caregiver programs to help support your loved one?
It’s true – a lot of veterans don’t realize that there are 2 types of programs for caregivers of veterans:
- The Program of General Caregiver Support Services (eligible Veterans all eras)
- The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (eligible post-9/11 Veterans)
The VA created these programs under the MISSION Act to educate and financially help family members or friends take care of a Veteran. The programs are designed to involve family members or friends with the treatment and care of a disabled Veteran.
To understand which caregiver program is right for you, read more.
Benefits of the Program of General Caregiver Support Services
The benefits program for Veterans of all eras is more of an educational resource for caregivers. To enroll in this program, you do not need a formal application.
The VA lists several elements that this program involves:
- Information/Referral to in-home or support services, support groups and other resources
- Education and training on how best to care for yourself and your Veteran loved one
- Peer support to learn from and gain support from other caregivers
- Mental health counseling (if need is related to the Veteran’s condition)
- Programs that focus on caregiver self-care
How to Enroll in the VA General Caregiver Support Services
You do not need to submit a formal application to enroll in this program. You will want to get in contact with one of your local Caregiver Support Coordinators to get news about meetings and events.
Benefits of the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers
In addition to the benefits of the General Caregiver Support Services, The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers may offer the following (according to eligibility):
- Financial monthly stipend
- Health insurance
- Beneficiary Travel benefits
- Support/Counseling Services
- Respite care to get a break for no less than 30 days
Financial Monthly Stipend
A primary veteran caregiver may be eligible to receive a non-taxable stipend each month. In order to set this up, the veteran and the caregiver will need to meet with the veteran’s Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT). This team will assess approximately how many hours of care the veteran requires each week.
To determine the compensation amount, a formula is used given the amount of time the caregiver dedicates to helping the veteran.
The formula for a monthly stipend amount is:
(Bureau of Labor Statistics hourly wage of home health aides adjusted to meeting the Consumer Price Index Cost of Living Adjustment) x (the number of hours of care) x (average number of weeks in each month)
Example: $10 hourly wage x 25 hours of care per week x 4.35 average weeks per month = $1087.50 monthly stipend
The VA states that this monthly stipend is not to be mistaken for an employment opportunity from the VA. It is only to be used for caregivers who have had to sacrifice their time and possibly their income to take care of their loved one.
If the veteran is not retired or medically retired, then the caregiver will be eligible for health care benefits through CHAMPVA, the civilian health and medical program through the department of VA.
Beneficiary Travel Benefits
A caregiver can receive travel reimbursement for scheduled and unscheduled VA facility appointments just as a Veteran would.
A caregiver has several options to express their concerns related to their role as a caregiver for a veteran. One option is for a caregiver to join a support group filled with other caregivers for veterans.
Caregivers can also speak with a licensed psychologist or social worker free of charge through the Coaching into Care VA program. This counseling can help the caregiver understand how to communicate treatment plans to a loved one.
Respite care is provided by the VA in cases where the caregiver must step away from their assistance duties with the veteran.
For example, if there is a husband veteran and a caregiver wife who just had a baby, they may need respite care for more than 30 days. In this case, the caregiver wife might need to direct her attention towards their baby instead of the veteran husband. However, the veteran still needs assistance with daily tasks, so the VA assists in transitioning the husband’s mom in as a temporary caregiver.
How to Enroll in the VA Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers
In order to qualify for the Comprehensive Assistance program, the caregiver and the veteran will need to meet certain requirements.
For the veteran, you must meet the following criteria:
- You are not currently in the military
- You require at least 6 months of continuous supervision or assistance with performing basic tasks of everyday life due to a serious injury or mental disorder incurred or aggravated in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001.
For the Caregiver, 6 months of continuous supervision or assistance with basic tasks might mean helping the Veteran complete at least one of the following tasks:
- Driving to daily activities like appointments
- Taking a shower, getting dressed, going to the bathroom
- Getting in and out of bed
- Completing physical therapy
- Eating with a feeding tube or a similar way
- Communicating condition(s) with doctors, nurses, social workers, etc.
- Taking medication or giving injections
Help for Caregivers and Service Connected Disabled Veterans
Do you need help locating your local Caregiver Support Coordinator? Give Strategic Veteran a call!
We are a veteran-ran company providing resources to help you uncover ALL the VA benefits you deserve! We have personal experience with both VA caregiver programs. Call today at 800-761-9004.