Who Is Eligible for VA Caregiver Benefits?
The VA Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers is commonly known as PCAFC. It says eligible family caregivers must:
- Be at least 18 years of age.
Be the veteran’s spouse, child, parent, stepfamily member or extended family member. Or someone who lives with the veteran full time or will live with them if designated as a family caregiver.
Be assessed by the VA as capable of completing caregiver education and training.
Complete caregiver education and training. And show an ability to fulfill all the care services and requirements the veteran needs.
Caregiver responsibilities for a veteran with mesothelioma include maintaining health and hygiene. They also do household chores, grocery shopping and meal preparation. They may handle financial matters and provide companionship and socialization.
What Are the VA Caregiver Benefits Offered?
It is important for mesothelioma caregivers to take advantage of any benefits they qualify for. The challenges of caring for a veteran with mesothelioma may lead to caregiver burnout and mental distress.
Caregivers of veterans with mesothelioma provide personal care services that include care and assistance to support the veteran’s health and well-being and daily personal needs. Caregivers also offer safety, protection or instruction in the veteran’s living environment.
Primary family caregiver benefits offered through the VA include:
- A monthly stipend (stipend rates are based on the amount and degree of personal care services provided)
Access to health care benefits available through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, also known as CHAMPVA
At least 30 days per year of respite care
Primary and secondary family caregivers also can receive the following benefits:
- Caregiver education and training
Mental health counseling
Travel, lodging and financial assistance for traveling with the veteran to access care
In 2021, the VA made it possible for veterans with mesothelioma to become eligible for special benefits. This was possible because of a law called the VA MISSION Act that passed in 2018.
To qualify, the veteran must have developed mesothelioma as a result of service-related exposure to asbestos. Exposure must have occurred on or before May 7, 1975. This includes veterans exposed while serving in World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War.
Types of Caregiver Benefits for Mesothelioma Patients
Some of the VA caregiver benefits for veterans with mesothelioma include:
- Caregiver Support Line: The VAs National Caregiver Support Line is here to help veterans and their caregivers. If you call this line, a professional can answer questions about the types of assistance available. They can connect you with a Caregiver Support Coordinator. They are also happy to just listen if that’s what you need. Every month, they offer presentations for caregivers. They focus on taking care of yourself and provide support on different topics.
Caregiver Peer Support Mentoring Program: This program connects caregivers with others who have experienced similar challenges to provide support and guidance. Your local Caregiver Support Coordinator can connect you with a mentor in this program.
Mental Health Services: The VA offers individual mental health therapy and counseling. It is available through the VA or by contract. The Caregiver Support Line is also available when you need to talk to a caring licensed professional about caregiver struggles.
Rehab Programs: Caregivers may access support through a VA rehab facility.
CHAMPVA: Primary caregivers may access health care benefits and pharmacy benefits through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The VA also offers benefits to spouses and certain family members of veterans even if they are not serving as a caregiver. For example, spouses and dependents of the veteran may qualify to file a VA claim for monthly compensation.
Other VA benefits that help veterans and their families include VA pension, VA Aid and Attendance benefits, Geriatrics and Extended Care benefits and the Fiduciary Program, which helps with financial affairs.
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Veterans Requirements for VA Caregiver Benefits
In order to qualify for the VA Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, the following criteria must be met:
- A veteran must have a single or combined service-connected disability rating of 70% or more. Veterans with mesothelioma meet this requirement because mesothelioma has a 100% disability rating.
- A veteran must also need in-person personal care services for a minimum of six continuous months based on either:
- An inability to perform daily activities each time the activities are performed
- A need for daily supervision, protection or instruction.
- The personal care services provided by a primary or secondary family caregiver will not be provided by another person or entity.
An eligible veteran can appoint one primary family caregiver and up to two secondary family caregivers to their caretaker team. When veterans need to add a new family caregiver, the veteran and their new caregiver must submit a new application.
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Filing for VA Caregiver Benefits
To file for VA caregiver benefits, a veteran must already be enrolled in VA health care.
Once you’re enrolled in VA health care, the steps to file for the VA Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers include:
- Visit www.caregiver.va.gov and download VA Form 10-10CG.
Mail the completed form to: Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Health Eligibility Center, 2957 Clairmont Road, NE, Suite 200, Atlanta, GA 30329-1647.
You may also apply in person with the assistance of a Caregiver Support Coordinator at your local VA medical center. To find the name of your local coordinator, call the VA Caregiver Support Line at 855-260-3274.
Filing for benefits presents challenges and frustration for many veterans. Learning how to navigate the system helps the process go smoothly. Resources are available to help veterans learn how to avoid pitfalls in applying. A VA-accredited claims agent can offer guidance and support.