Yesterday, May 3rd, 2011, the VA announced the finality of the rules for the new Caregiver Program and said that they will begin taking applications from veterans and their families to receive benefits under this program. The application becomes available for download on May 9, 2011. The announcement of an improved Caregiver benefits program was first received with much excitement in the veteran community. That was in late 2010. Until now, the VA and committees in Congress have been debating back and forth on the exact benefits and eligibility criteria for veterans asking for this benefit. They have finally come to a decision, although don’t be surprised if some details should change. The VA Press Release talks about this development as the “final interim rule” on the Family Caregiver Program.
A specific point of note is this: caregiver benefits are available for all veterans, of any age, war, or era. These new provisions, though, are only for veterans of wars after September 11, 2001. If you or your loved one is a veteran from wars prior to 9/11, visit here to find more information about the caregiver benefits for which you might be eligible. Alternatively, the Caregiver Support Line is available for information, resources, and services. The number is 1-855-230-3274.
The biggest concern for veterans who wish to apply for the new benefits are the eligibility criteria.
The Veteran must:
*Have sustained a serious injury including traumatic brain injury, psychological trauma, or another mental disorder which was created by or aggravated during service. The injury(ies) must have happened on or after September 11, 2001.
*Be in need of personal care services due to an inability to perform one or more daily life activities. These activities are things such as eating, bathing, or grooming. Also qualifying is the veteran’s need for supervision or protection due to dangers created in the presence of the injury or disability.
*Be enrolled in VA Health Services. If the veteran is not already enrolled in the VA Health Care System, an application for that (VA Form 10-10 EZ) can be completed and submitted concurrently. The application for the Caregiver Program is VA Form 10-10 CG. This form will be available for download at the Caregiver website starting May 9th. Additional help with this application can be gained by calling 1-877-222-8387.
The application requires input and signatures from both the veteran (or a legal representative) and the intending Family Caregiver. To submit the application, either walk into a local VA Medical Center, or for quicker processing, mail it to:
Family Caregivers Program
Health Eligibility Center
2957 Clairmont Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30329-1647
Following submission of the application, the family can expect contact from the veteran’s local VA Medical Center. The Caregiver Support Coordinator will arrange for the intending Family Caregiver to schedule mandatory training. The veteran will be required to complete a clinical eligibility assessment, which measures what assistance the veteran needs in his or her daily activities, or the need for supervision or protection. If the veteran is determined to meet all criteria, the Family Caregiver is expected to complete training via on site classrooms, online training, or a self-study workbook and DVD.
After all this is completed, a home visit takes place to ensure that the home of the veteran and caregiver is adequate to the veteran’s needs. At the conclusion of all these requirements, the Family Caregiver will begin receiving a monthly allowance from the VA. The amount is based on the veteran’s level of need for assistance. The allowance will be paid retroactively from the date of the application submission.
The Family Caregiver may be eligible to receive health insurance via CHAMPVA if they do not already have private health insurance.
View the VA Press Release here.
Photo thanks to Brian_Fornear under creative common license on Flickr.