The VA Family Caregiver Program
The VA has a program to assist family caregivers. This program is called the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC). Each VA Medical Center has caregiver support coordinators who are available to answer questions and help the caregiver find support to meet their needs and help them take care of their Veteran.
A family caregiver, for VA purposes, is a family member who assists a Veteran with their needs including supporting their:
- Health and well-being
- Everyday personal needs (feeding, bathing, dressing, etc)
- Safety, protection, or instruction in their daily living environment
In order to participate in the PCAFC, the Veteran and the caregiver must meet certain requirements. The caregiver must be either:
- A spouse, son, daughter, parent, stepfamily member, or extended family member of the Veteran, OR
- Someone who lives full-time with the Veteran, or is willing to do so if designated as a family caregiver
The Veteran must have a VA disability rating of at least 70%. The disability must be service connected by active duty service in one of the following time periods:
- On or after September 11, 2001, OR
- On or before May 7, 1975
NOTE: The VA is expanding access, and on October 1, 2022 plans to open the program to eligible Veterans of all eras. Watch the VA page for more information as the date draws closer.
And the Veteran must:
- Have been discharged from the U.S. military or have a date of medical discharge, AND
- Need at least 6 months of continuous, in-person personal care services
So to summarize, a family caregiver must be either a member of the Veteran’s family or be willing to live with the Veteran full time as a caregiver. The Veteran must have a VA Service-Connected disability rating of at least 70% from active duty either on or before May 7, 1975 or on or after September 11, 2001. The Veteran must also need at least 6 months of continuous in-person care.
How Many Caregivers Can I Have
The Veteran isn’t limited to just one caregiver. They can appoint a primary caregiver and up to two secondary caregivers who can act as backup support when the primary needs time for self-care. As caregivers, all of them are eligible to receive training and counseling from the VA. Primary and secondary caregivers are eligible to receive
- Caregiver education and training
- Mental health counseling
- Travel, lodging, and financial assistance when traveling with the Veteran to receive care
In addition, the Primary Caregiver may also be eligible for:
- Monthly stipend (payment)
- Access to health care benefits through the VA’s CHAMPVA program
- At least 30 days per year of respite care for the Veteran
Applying To Be A Caregiver
The Veteran and prospective caregiver will need to apply together for the program and sign and date the application. Veterans can fill the application out online. They can also download VA Form 10-10CG from the VA website and mailed to the address found on the same page. Or, if you would rather speak to someone face to face for help with the intricacies of the program, you can apply in person with the Caregiver Support Coordinator at your local VA Medical Hospital.
I Don’t Meet The Criteria for a Caregiver, Now What
If you don’t meet the criteria to be part of the PCAFC program, there is still support available from the VA. The program is called Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS). The Caregiver Support Coordinator at each VA Hospital has purview over this program also and can assist Veterans and their caregivers with more information.
The services provided include on-line workshops, self-care courses for caregivers, and a dedicated support line for caregivers along with several other services. The VA has a Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274 which provides information about the support you can receive to help take care of your Veteran.
Last Note: You must be enroll in the VA Health Care system. If your Veteran is not currently in the VA Health Care system, call 877-222-8387 to apply.
As always, if you have any questions please reach out to us and let us know.