We wanted to update you with new information from VA about when newly eligible veterans will be able to apply for caregiver benefits. As previously reported, VA recently published new regulations to expand the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) to pre-9/11 veterans, beginning with those from World War II, the Korean and Vietnam war eras whose injuries or illnesses occurred on or before May 7, 1975. The second expansion phase will cover veterans whose injuries or illnesses occurred between May 8, 1975 and September 10, 2001.
According to VA, this expansion will not occur and become official until the Secretary certifies a new caregiver IT system and it is fully implemented. VA also notes that it will not approve any new applications for caregiver benefits based on this expanded eligibility prior to that date, which is expected to be October 1st (the same day the new regulations take effect). Only new applications received by VA on or after the IT certification date (also expected to be October 1st) will be considered or approved based on the new expanded eligibility for World War II, Korean War and Vietnam veterans in phase one.
It is important to remember that having a service-connected injury or illness—regardless of the level of disability compensation—does not automatically qualify a veteran for PCAFC benefits. VA must first make a clinical assessment of each individual’s caregiving needs and approve both the veteran and their designated caregiver into the program before VA will begin to provide benefits.
According to VA’s new regulation, a phase one veteran’s effective date for caregiver benefits, including stipends, would be:
“…the latest of the following dates:
(1) The date the joint application that resulted in approval and designation of the Family Caregiver is received by VA.
(2) The date the eligible veteran begins receiving care at home.
(3) The date the Family Caregiver begins providing personal care services to the eligible veteran at home.”
Therefore, if you are a World War II, Korean War or Vietnam era veteran who currently has a family caregiver providing you with caregiving services in your home, you may become eligible on the date your application is received by VA as long as it is on or after the IT certification date, (expected to be October 1st) and VA has determined that both you and your caregiver meet the clinical criteria for the program.
To reiterate—if your application for benefits is approved, and your designated caregiver is approved into the program, your benefits may be payable back to the date the application was received (on or after October 1st) if your caregiver was already providing personal care services at your home. If you do not currently have a caregiver but you are found to be eligible for the program, and your application is approved and clinical need is determined, the effective date would be the date the designated caregiver begins providing personal care services to the eligible veteran.