Last week we focused on the history and eligibility requirements of the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC). If you missed it, go here to catch up! This week we’ll dive into how to apply for family caregiver benefits and the VA’s process for determining eligibility.PCAFC Process Overview
The veteran and caregiver should start the process by filling out the application together.
The online application can be found here or access a printable version with this PDF.
Helpful Tips for Application Process:
- Be prepared by having the following information at hand before starting to fill out the application:
- Veteran AND caregiver full address, telephone numbers, and dates of birth
- The VA medical center information for where the veteran will receive care
- The primary caregiver’s current health insurance information
- Social security number (SSN) OR tax identification number (TIN) of the veteran (required only if filling the application out online)
- If you need help filling out the application, you have the following options:
- Search by state and area here to find your local Caregiver Support Program (CSP) Team Caregiver Support Coordinator
- Call the VA at 1-855-488-8440 and ask for someone to help you with this form
- Call the VA National Caregiver Support Line directly at 1-855-260-3274
Once the form is completed, you can submit using one of the following methods:
- Online, if you utilized the online application. Once you “submit”, you will have a confirmation page for your own records.
- By mail: (Please do NOT send medical records with your application and documents.)
- Mail the form and any supporting documents to:
Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers
Health Eligibility Center
2957 Clairmont Road NE, Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30329-1647
- Mail the form and any supporting documents to:
- In-person to your local VA medical center Caregiver Support Coordinator. Remember to use this link to find yours!
Veteran & Caregiver Assessments
A Caregiver Support Coordinator will contact the veteran to complete a clinical and functional assessment once they receive the application. For the veteran, this will most likely include a Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam. During the assessment and exam, a health care practitioner is looking at the following things:
- Is the veteran receiving all of their care at home?
- Is the veteran receiving care from a VA health care team or patient-aligned team?
- Are the services offered or being performed by the primary caregiver unable to be received the same elsewhere?
- How many hours per week of care does the veteran need?
- Factors that are safety concerns: mood or mental health disorders, difficulty with basic life decisions, sleep irregularity or disorders, seizures, and more.
A Caregiver Support Coordinator will also contact the primary caregiver to conduct an assessment.
Once the veteran and caregiver assessments are finished, the application is reviewed by the Caregiver Support Program Eligibility and Appeals team. Medical records, including the recent assessments, are utilized during this review process.
This initial review by the team will determine whether the VA believes the veteran and caregiver are eligible to continue the review process. If determined to still be eligible, the process for family caregiver benefits continues.
If the initial review determines the individual eligible to possibly receive family caregiver benefits, the next step is training. The VA requires the primary caregiver to complete a comprehensive caregiver training, which can be done online or by printed workbook. The training covers all of the Caregiver Core Curriculum that is required.
A comprehensive home-care assessment is conducted at the veteran’s residence, or the place they will be receiving the care from the primary caregiver. This assessment is designed to help the VA determine the competence and ability of the primary caregiver to provide safe and complete care for the veteran.
The Caregiver Support Program Eligibility and Appeals team will conduct a final review of the application, now that all required assessments have taken place. They will review all evidence and information gathered.
If approved, the veteran and primary caregiver will be referred to the Caregiver Support Coordinator for a full explanation of their family caregiver benefits.
VA Family Caregiver Benefits
Once approved for the PCAFC program, there are a multitude of family caregiver benefits and services the primary caregiver may be eligible for, including:
- A monthly stipend. The amount is based on a formula and influencing factors, such as the disability rating of the veteran, hours and level of care per week, and the Labor Statistics’ hourly wage for home health care workers.
- Health care insurance through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA), as long as no other health care insurance is carried.
- Educational and training opportunities
- Mental health counseling
- Compensation for travel and lodging when taking the veteran to appointments
- Annual respite care
There are many different reasons and situations where a veteran may need a primary caregiver. If the veteran isn’t enrolled in VA health care or is being medically discharged from active duty, they will need to fill out out a VA Application for Health Care Benefits form (10-10EZ) before applying for PCAFC. It is worth the time and effort to apply for family caregiver benefits.
Navigating the VA disabilities and benefits process can be confusing and complex. Our team helps veterans streamline the process by providing them with a thorough medical assessment. VA Disability Coaching is also an option, as this helps veterans complete their DBQ’s accurately and with maximum detail, so they can receive the benefits they deserve and have earned.
With the 2022 increase in disability compensation, there’s never been a better time to make sure you’re receiving the maximum benefits and compensation you have earned and deserve. Click the button below to learn about our process and schedule a free consultation!