One of the least understood areas of VA benefits is Caregiver Benefits, also known as benefits under the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC). If you are a qualifying Veteran with a qualifying Family Caregiver, your Caregiver may receive a monthly stipend in addition to the VA disability benefits you receive.
Basic Veteran Eligibility Criteria
- The Veteran being provided care by the Family Caregiver must have a serious injury, which is a single or combined service-connected disability rating of 70% or more.
- The Veteran must be in need of in-person personal care services for a minimum of six continuous months due to either an inability to perform an activity of daily living, or a need for supervision, protection, or instruction.
- Personal care services that would be provided by the Family Caregiver will not be simultaneously and regularly provided by or through another individual or entity.
Basic Family Caregiver Eligibility Criteria
A Family Caregiver must...
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Be either: (1) The Veteran's spouse, son, daughter, parent, stepfamily member, or extended family member, or (2) someone who lives the the Veteran full-time or will do so if designated as a Family Caregiver.
- Be assessed by the VA as being able to complete caregiver education and training.
- Complete caregiver training.
What Qualifies as an Inability to Perform Activity of Daily Living?
A Veteran with an inability to perform an activity of daily living needs help each time he or she completes any one of the following tasks:
- Dressing or undressing
- Adjusting special prosthetic or orthopedic appliances that require assistance
- Feeding oneself due to loss of coordination, inability to swallow, or the need for a non-oral means of nutrition
- Mobility (stairs, transferring from bed to chair, etc.)
What Stipend Does a Family Caregiver Receive?
Family Caregivers are paid at one of two levels. If a Veteran is unable to sustain his or herself in the community (according to VA standards), the Caregiver receives payment at Level Two, which is a higher level of payment. If a Veteran is able to sustain his or herself in the community, the Caregiver receives payment at Level One.
The rate of the monthly stipend is based on the locality pay area where the eligible Veteran resides, so it varies from city to city, and state to state. Caregivers paid at the Level One rate receive 62.5% of the monthly stipend rate. Caregivers paid at the Level Two rate receive 100% of the monthly stipend rate.
How to Apply for Benefits
Veterans and potential Family Caregivers must participate together in the application process. You can apply online or by mailing mailing an application and any supporting documents to the following address:
Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers
Health Eligibility Center
2957 Clairmont Road NE, Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30329-1647
You may also apply in person by bringing the completed form to your local VA medical center's Caregiver Support Coordinator. You can locate their name using this directory.
The VA has asked that you not send medical records along with the application. The VA will follow up for such records after the application is received.
Appealing Family Caregiver Determinations
If you receive a VA decision denying Family Caregiver benefits, you can appeal the decision. There are several appeal routes available to Veterans and their Caregivers who have been denied benefits. Contact our office today about a free screening of your Caregiver benefits case to see if we may be able to represent you in the appeals process.