In early March of 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) presented recommendations to expand the coverage that family caregivers may receive from the Comprehensive Assistance Program based on recent legislative changes.
The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) provides benefits like training, respite care, counseling, technical support, beneficiary travel, monthly stipends, and healthcare to eligible family caregivers through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA).
Currently, the PCAFC will only accept veterans who were injured on or after September 11, 2001. According to the VA, the proposed regulations would expand PCAFC to qualifying veterans, regardless of when they served.
The proposed change will extend eligibility to former servicemembers who sustained service-connected injuries before May 7, 1975. Many more families will have the financial tools they need to care for loved ones who served in the United States military.
The proposal would include a new definition of “serious injury,” which will cover any service-connected disability such as injury, illness, or disease. Further, VA currently defines a need for personal care services as requiring respite care without a family caregiver. The proposed changes to the PCAFC will ensure that all former servicemembers with cognitive or neurological impairments will be eligible for caregiver benefits.
The proposed changes would determine eligibility based on whether a veteran requires assistance with daily living. This could include dressing, bathing, grooming, and feeding themselves.
Moreover, if the veteran is a legacy participant, their benefits will remain the same if they require assistance with their day-to-day activities. If a former servicemember needs assistance with three or more of the seven activities defined by VA as daily living, they will receive a greater stipend each month.
Monthly stipends will be recalculated based on any material change in circumstances that a veteran experiences. For example, if a former servicemember relocates to a new address, the stipend will be adjusted to account for the cost of living in that area. The proposed changes to VA’s PCAFC seek to ensure that veterans and their families do not need to worry about disability benefits when contemplating a move.
While an applicant waits for VA to reassess whether they qualify for another year of PCAFC, they will be given a one-year transition period. This decision will provide former servicemembers and their families with stipends for one year so they can have some financial security before such changes occur.
The Trump administration is seeking $1.2 billion for the PCAFC. This is an increase of $485 million; therefore, veterans may be getting better care and coverage can be extended. Some of the new benefits in the proposal include coverage for financial planning services as well as legal services. This will give servicemembers and their families more access to resources that can benefit their day-to-day lives and long-term goals.
We understand that these proposed changes may be difficult to understand. If you are currently receiving PCAFC and are worried about how these changes may impact your assistance, call us today to speak with one of our experienced veterans’ disability attorneys. We can provide you with reassurance and support when discussing what will happen if these changes become permanent.
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