VA Caregiver Support Program

Updated: March 30, 2021

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    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognize the important role caregivers play in the well-being of veterans. They offer the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) which focuses on the wellbeing of both the veteran needing assistance and his or her caregiver. The long-term goal of PCAFC is for the veteran to be able to safely care for themselves and be discharged from the program.

    VA Caregiver Support Program Currently, the program is only available to veterans who were seriously injured in the line of duty on or after May 7, 1975. However, with the signing of the VA Mission Act, the program will be available to veterans of all war eras as of Oct. 1, 2022.

    Veteran Eligibility Criteria

    To be eligible for PCAFC, the veteran or servicemember must have a serious injury that happened in the line of duty on or after May 7, 1975. “Line of duty” is established by VA rating or U.S. Department of Defense Medical Evaluation Board. Serious injury includes psychological trauma (including traumatic brain injury), but does not include illness. Additionally, the veteran must answer “yes” to the following questions:

    • Is another person (caregiver) required to assist the veteran with the daily management of personal care functions needed for everyday living such as bathing, dressing, grooming, mobility, being fed, and/or help with prosthetics, or does the veteran need supervision or protection throughout the day such as trouble with concentration, memory, planning, organizing, or general safety?
    • Is care required from a caregiver for at least six months?
    • Would participation in PCAFC significantly enhance the veteran’s ability to live safely at home or support his or her progress in rehabilitation?

    Veteran eligibility is subject to reassessment annually or as needed.

    Please note: Help with shopping, cleaning, yard work, lifting, transportation, childcare, and general emotional support cannot be considered for eligibility. Further, the care and support being provided must exceed what would generally be expected from a spouse, parent, close friend, etc.


    Primary Family Caregiver Criteria and Benefits

    An individual who wishes to be designated as a primary family caregiver under the PCAFC must be at least 18 years old and agree to perform personal care services for the veteran. The person should be a member of the veteran’s family – spouse, child, sibling, parent, step-family member, or extended family member. If NOT related to the veteran, the primary family caregiver must live with the veteran or be willing to do so once designated as a family caregiver.

    Eligible caregivers through PCAFC may be considered to receive a financial stipend, access to health care insurance, mental health services and counseling, caregiver training, and respite care. Receiving a stipend does not imply an employment agreement between the caregiver and the VA. The stipend is not an entitlement. Instead, it recognizes the time, care, and support the caregiver provides to the veteran and is meant to help offset the costs associated with not being able to work outside the home. The stipend amount is based on the severity of the veteran’s disability and the market rate for caregivers. See the VA Caregiver Stipend Calculator.

    Primary caregivers are also asked to complete the caregiver training program, work closely with the veteran’s treatment team, be present during home visits, and notify the veteran’s primary care team of any changes in physical and/or mental health condition. Click here to read the full list of roles, responsibilities, and requirements for primary family caregivers.


    Secondary Family Caregiver Criteria

    An individual who wishes to be designated as a secondary family caregiver under the PCAFC must be at least 18 years old and agree to perform personal care services for the veteran. The person should be a member of the veteran’s family – spouse, child, sibling, parent, step-family member, or extended family member. If NOT related to the veteran, the primary family caregiver must live with the veteran or be willing to do so once designated as a family caregiver.

    Secondary family caregivers serve as a backup to the primary family caregiver and are not eligible for a stipend. It is requested that secondary caregivers complete the caregiver training program, work closely with the veteran’s treatment team, be present during home visits, and notify the veteran’s primary care team of any changes in physical and/or mental health condition. Click here to read the full list of roles, responsibilities, and requirements for secondary family caregivers.


    General Caregiver Support

    For those caregivers not eligible to enroll in the PCAFC, the VA offers support. This is in the form of mentoring, training, educational resources, and other tools to better help you assist the veteran under your care and tend to your own mental health needs. To browse these resources and to learn more, click here.

    If you are interested in applying for PCAFC, complete the VA’s online Caregiver Eligibility Check. Based on the answers provided, you will be asked to fill out the appropriate online application form for VA benefits. Visit the VA’s website here to learn more about the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. You can also check eligibility and to read more about the roles, responsibilities, and requirements of being a caregiver.


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    Written by MilitaryBenefits