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VA expands benefits to family members who provide veteran care

The VA has expanded its Mission Act to provide more services to family caregivers. Starting in October 2020, the administration began accepting applications for its Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) from the caregivers of veterans who were seriously injured in the line of duty on or before May 7, 1975. In 2022, the program will be open to the caregivers of veterans suffering serious service-related injuries on or before September 11, 2001. 

What benefits are provided to family caregivers?

Family members who provide care for veterans who suffered a serious injury in the line of duty can be eligible for benefits that include:

  • Caregiver training and education
  • Respite care services
  • Self-care courses
  • Monthly stipends
  • Reimbursement for travel taken as part of caregiving responsibilities
  • Mental health counseling

Who is eligible?

In order to receive caregiver benefits through the PCAFC, you must be over the age of 18. You must also be either a family member of the veteran, living with the veteran full-time or willing to do so in order to be named the veteran’s caregiver and provide personal care services. Personal care services include those that assist or support the veteran’s health and well-being, help the veteran to meet their everyday personal needs such as eating, bathing or dressing, or that provide safety, instruction or protection to the veteran’s everyday living environment. In addition, the veteran you are caring for must have a disability rating of 70 percent or higher, and their service-connected disabilities must have been caused or made worse by active duty service either on or before May 7, 1975, for the first phase of participants and on or before September 11, 2001, for the second phase of participants.

Through this program, the veteran can appoint one primary caregiver along with two secondary caregivers. All designated caregivers are eligible to receive caretaker education and training, mental health counseling and paid travel, lodging and financial assistance when traveling with the veteran. Primary caregivers also qualify for a monthly stipend, access to healthcare benefits through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) and at least 30 days of respite care a year for the veteran. 

Other resources available

If the veteran you care for does not meet the eligibility requirements for PCAFC, you can access other caregiver support services, such as self-care texts, peer support mentoring and a suicide prevention toolkit for caregivers through the VA’s Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS).