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Enhanced Benefits for Caregivers

Reprinted from PN April 2011

VA is launching new and enhanced services supporting family caregivers of seriously and injured veterans.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is launching the first of a series of new and enhanced services supporting family caregivers of seriously ill and injured veterans. In May 2010, President Obama signed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 legislation authorizing VA to establish a wide range of new services to support certain caregivers of eligible post-9/11 veterans.

In addition to the new benefits and services for eligible veterans who were disabled in the line of duty since September 11, 2001 (post-9/11 veterans), VA will begin providing enhanced benefits and services to caregivers of veterans of all eras who are already enrolled in VA care, including:

- Access to VA’s toll-free Caregiver Support Line (855-260-3274)

- Expanded education and training on caring for veterans at home

- Other support services such as counseling and support groups and referral services

- An enhanced website for caregivers

Some of the new benefits of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act are restricted by law to the caregivers of the most seriously ill and injured post-9/11 veterans. Those additional benefits include a monthly stipend, healthcare coverage, travel expenses (including lodging and per diem while accompanying veterans undergoing care), respite care, and mental-health services and counseling.

VA will report to Congress on the feasibility of expanding the enhanced services to family caregivers of veterans of all eras.

While some of these enhanced benefits are available now, many of the other significant newly-enacted benefits will require issuance of regulations. These additional benefits include monthly stipends, pay for travel costs, medical coverage, training, counseling, and respite care designed to prevent institutionalization of veterans whenever possible. The law requires detailed regulations for determining eligibility, designating and approving caregivers, and providing stipends and healthcare coverage to primary family caregivers. The complex process required to implement these regulations will give veterans, caregivers, and the general public the opportunity to provide comments before those regulations are finalized.

Each VA medical center has designated caregiver-support coordinators who will help eligible veterans and caregivers understand and apply for the new benefits. VA also has a Caregiver Support Web page, www.caregiver.va.gov, which will have general information once final regulations are published.

 

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Enhanced Benefits for Caregivers

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