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Can You Get Paid for Taking Care of Your Disabled Veteran Spouse?

Can You Get Paid for Taking Care of Your Disabled Veteran Spouse?

When a Veteran returns home from deployment, their spouses are always happy to see them safe. Sadly, many married Veterans don’t return in full health. Many return with long-term or permanent disabilities that require the care and attendance of their spouses for years to come.

Caring for a disabled spouse can be difficult to bear alone, resulting in major financial strain. Fortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides several programs and means of compensation to pay spouses who care for their disabled Veterans. Read on to learn more.

The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers

The primary compensation program for the spouses of disabled Veterans is the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC). This program is intended to compensate the spouses of disabled Veterans for their important role in supporting their health and wellness. It also recognizes that many spouses act as primary caregivers for their families.

In essence, the VA normally provides Veterans a stipend or financial benefit so they can pay for caregivers or nurse assistants. If a family member takes on this role, that family member could receive that stipend or financial benefit instead.

If you assist a loved one in their activities of daily living, you should look into caregiver support programs. Help from a caregiver at your local VA can help supplement your income, increase Medicaid options, and diversify the support services you can afford.

Eligibility for the PCAFC

Before applying for the PCAFC, knowing whether you qualify is important.

As of October 1, 2022, the PCAFC is available for all family caregivers of eligible Veterans of all military eras. If you are a spouse of any disabled Veteran, you could qualify for this if you meet the other eligibility requirements below.

Family caregivers, such as the spouses of disabled Veterans, must meet these eligibility requirements:

  • They must be at least 18 years old (adult children or older)
  • They must be directly related to or the spouse of a Veteran OR
  • They must live full-time with the Veteran or be willing to live full-time with the Veteran if they are designated the family caregiver

Furthermore, a Veteran must meet eligibility qualifications for their spouse to receive the PCAFC financial benefits, including:

  • Having a VA disability rating of 70% or higher from a VA medical center. This can be individual or combined
  • Being discharged from the US military
  • Requiring at least six months of continuous and in-person personal care services according to the recommendation of a licensed medical professional

For the PCAFC, “personal care services” include assistance to support a Veteran’s health and well-being, satisfy everyday needs like feeding and dressing, and provide safety or instruction in a Veteran’s daily living environment.

The application process for the VA care program is straightforward. As a result, care providers should determine the primary care recipient and other caregivers of Veterans before filing paperwork. If you have health insurance, this may also affect your in-home care benefits and Medicare coverage.

Attorneys can help you navigate these complexities.

Caregiver Limitations for the PCAFC

In the PCAFC, the Veteran can appoint one primary family caregiver. This is the main caregiver for their medical and personal care support needs. They can also support up to two secondary family caregivers, who work as backup support individuals for the primary caregiver when it is necessary.

All caregivers can receive education and training, mental health counseling, and financial, travel, and lodging assistance when traveling with a Veteran to ensure they receive adequate care. However, only the eligible primary family caregiver will receive most benefits.

What Do Primary Family Caregivers Receive Under the PCAFC?

A Veteran may appoint their spouse as their primary family caregiver. If they do this, the primary family caregiver may receive the following:

  • A monthly stipend to pay them for their labor and to assist with the medical/support needs of the disabled Veteran
  • Access to health care benefits via the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA)
  • Under these healthcare Veterans benefits, the primary family caregiver may receive up to 30 days of “respite” or time off each year. Secondary paid caregivers provide respite care to meet Veteran needs

Note that the benefits and stipend income are not taxable, further improving the benefit of this financial assistance.

Stipend Amounts

You’ll receive compensation if you qualify as the primary family caregiver and receive a monthly stipend under the PCAFC. The VA will pay you your monthly stipend based on factors such as:

  • Where the Veteran lives (which affects cost-of-living)
  • How disabled the Veteran is (which can affect how much work you have to do)

Stipend payments are made at Levels 1 or 2. Level 1 payments are given to caregivers who need substantial care and if the Veterans are still more capable than more disabled cohorts. These are approximately 62.5% of the maximum monthly stipend rate.

Level 2 payments are given to caregivers who can’t self-sustain in their communities. This means they require constant supervision and assistance with three or more daily activities. Level 2 payments are always made up to the maximum monthly stipend rate.

Furthermore, a caregiver/spouse’s final stipend will be affected by how many hours they have to work per week (based on how many hours of care the Veteran requires each week). This can range from low tier (up to 10 hours of work a week) or high tier (or up to 40 hours a week).

Other Ways of Getting Paid for Taking Take of a Disabled Veteran Spouse

While the PCAFC is the primary program you should apply to if you are a spouse taking care of a disabled Veteran, you may also qualify for additional compensation or benefits programs.

Veteran Directed Care

The Veteran Directed Care (VDC) program is available to all Veterans of all ages who are currently enrolled in the VA caregiver support program. This consumer-directed benefits option assists Veterans who require skilled medical services and assistance with various daily activities, like dressing, managing medication, waving, and so on.

Specifically, disabled Veterans receive individualized budgets to pay for their needed medical care. Veterans can choose to spend this by hiring their spouse to provide the needed care for them. 

Under the VDC program, the health services provider receives an hourly pay rate set by the VA Healthcare administration. The local level and economy also affect this pay level, so caregivers living in high-cost-of-living areas will receive more money.

Note that Veterans don’t receive cash through the VDC program. Furthermore, your Veteran spouse technically hires you to be their caregiver, so the VA does not pay you directly.

Aid and Attendance Pension

You may additionally qualify for the Aid and Attendance pension. This cash benefit is intended for Veterans and surviving spouses who require long-term care assisted living or nursing care in the home. The A&A pension may allow you to receive compensation to provide care to your Veteran spouse.

With this program, you do receive a monthly cash allowance. Single Veterans with no dependents, for example, might receive up to $2229 per month. However, married Veterans could be entitled to up to $2642 monthly. If you are a surviving spouse, you could be entitled to up to $1432 per month, even if you don’t have any dependents.

The best part of this program is that you can use the money however you see fit. You can use it to help take care of your spouse, pay bills, and so on. You also may qualify for this benefit even if your spouse is no longer living and doesn’t require your assistance to take care of their medication or other daily needs.

Contact Berry Law Today

If you’re married to a disabled Veteran and act as their primary caregiver, you could be entitled to compensation from the VA. You can and should apply for as many programs as possible. You deserve financial assistance for peace of mind and home stability, just like disabled Veterans do. However, before a recipient spouse is able to apply for disability support, the disabled Veteran in question must receive a Rating Decision from the VA. 

If you are a Veteran who needs to file a disability benefits claim with the VA or appeal an existing decision, the knowledgeable, experienced attorneys at Berry Law may be able to help. Contact us today to learn more about VA disability ratings, appeal a denial of disability ratings, increase your disability rating, and beyond.

Sources:

VA Expands Family Caregiver Program | PVA 

Veteran-Directed Care – Geriatrics and Extended Care | VA.gov

VA Aid And Attendance Benefits And Housebound Allowance | Veterans Affairs

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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