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VA to stop dropping caregivers from stipend program

December 21, 2018 - 2:22 pm

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today that it will temporarily stop kicking caregivers off its assistance program, which pays stipends and reimbursements to caregivers who are charged with taking care of wounded veterans.  Veterans, caregivers and families alike have complained that, despite Congress expanding the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, caregivers were dropped or downgraded without explanation.

“It is essential that we get this right,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a press release. “This affects one of our most vulnerable Veteran populations and we need to make sure we have consistency on how we process and evaluate benefit applications across VA.”

Wilkie is calling for an internal review.

The suspension does not impact the current application process. VA medical centers are continuing to accept and approve applications to the family caregivers program based on current eligibility criteria along with processing appeals and monitoring eligible Veterans’ well-being at least every 90 days, unless otherwise clinically indicated.  

Started in 2011, PCAFC was meant to support caregivers of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with an allowance of sorts to provide home healthcare.  That stipend ranges from $600 to $2,600 per month, based on the care and location of the veteran.  That money is significant for a family if the caregiver must quit work in order to care for his/her veteran full time.  The idea is that families caring for the veterans should cost substantially less than if the VA did it.

But caregivers complain that local VA offices have been cutting hundreds of caregivers from the program with no explanation.

Connecting Vets reporter Lauren Warner reports families have gotten so fed up with the program, they don't have the energy to appeal decisions when they're dropped.  That can be financially devastating to a veteran's family.