What Is the VA Caregiver Support Program?

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If you’re a disabled veteran who receives in-home care, you and your caregiver could be eligible for the VA’s Caregiver Support Program (CSP).

Those who are eligible can potentially receive a number of resources, including a monthly stipend that isn’t taxed or treated as income, medical coverage, and reimbursement for certain expenses.

For those who are interested in applying, there are two different programs under the CSP: the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) and the Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS). Here’s what you need to know:

What Are Personal Care Services?

There are many ways you can provide care to a disabled veteran in your family. To qualify for assistance through the CSP, you’ll have to meet the VA’s definition of personal care services.

That means providing the veteran with one or more of the following general types of support:

  • Health and well-being — such as administering medication or cleaning the home.
  • Everyday personal needs — including help with bathing, eating and dressing.
  • Safety, protection, or instruction in their daily living environment — such as providing transportation or responding to a seizure or other medical needs.

Who Is Eligible for the VA Caregiver Support Program?

The VA has eligibility requirements for both the caregiver and the veteran who receives care.

To qualify for PCAFC — the CSP option that includes a stipend, and possible medical and travel benefits  — one needs to meet the following requirements.

Caregiver Eligibility

According to the VA, a qualified caregiver is someone who provides personal care services for at least six continuous months. You’ll also have to meet each of the following requirements:

  • Age: You’re at least 18 years old
  • Relationship: You’re the spouse, son, daughter, parent, stepfamily member, or extended family member of the veteran, or you’re able to live full-time with the veteran as a caretaker.
  • Ability: You must pass a VA assessment of your ability to complete caregiver education and training, and show that you can carry out specific personal care services.

Veteran Eligibility

In order for veterans to qualify, they’ll have to meet several requirements, including:

  • VA disability rating (individual or combined) of 70% or higher
  • Service-connected disabilities were caused or worsened by active-duty service during one of these time periods:
    • On or after September 11, 2001, or
    • On or before May 7, 1975
  • Received discharge from the U.S. military or have a pending date of medical discharge
  • Needs at least 6 months of continuous, in-person personal care services

How Many Caregivers Can a Veteran Appoint?

The VA recognizes that some disabled veterans need support from more than one caregiver. Each qualifying veteran can appoint up to three people to provide their care, as follows:

  • Primary Family Caregiver: This individual is the main caregiver and is eligible to receive a wider set of benefits through the PCAFC.
  • Secondary Family Caregivers: Up to two additional people can be appointed to serve as backup support to the primary caregiver, on an as-needed-basis.

Here are some of the differences in the benefits that are available for each type of caregiver:

Caregiver Benefits Through the Caregiver Support Program

Primary Family CaregiversSecondary Family Caregivers
Caregiver education and training
Mental health counseling
Travel, lodging, and financial assistance when traveling with the veteran to receive care
Monthly stipend
Access to health care benefits
*For those who don’t qualify for care/services under another health care plan
Minimum 30 days per year of respite care for the veteran

Caregivers must be designated when you submit your application for the program (see instructions below).

How Is The Stipend Amount Calculated?

For primary caregivers who participate in the PCAFC, a monthly stipend may be available. The stipend amount will be calculated based on both the GS rate at Grade 4, Step 1 and the level that is assigned to the veteran.

Here’s a quick breakdown, with sample calculations from the VA that are based on the 2020 GS rate in Dallas:

Level 1: For Veterans who are determined able to “self-sustain” the Primary Caregiver’s stipend is 62.5% of the GS rate.

Example: If the full GS rate was $33,638/year, the stipend amount would have been  62.5% of that amount, or approximately $1,751.98 a month.

Level 2: For Veterans who are determined unable to self-sustain in the community, the caregiver’s stipend is 100% of the GS rate.

Example: If the GS rate was $33,638/year, the stipend would have been $33,638, or approximately $2,803.17 a month.

Once approved, the stipend is paid out on a monthly basis, and program participants will also receive retroactive pay based on the date their application was received by the VA.

How to Apply for the VA Caregiver Support Program

Applications for the CSP must be completed by both the caregiver and the veteran, and both of their signatures are needed.

If you wish to apply for the PCAFC, there are several ways to do so:

  • Online: Visit the VA website.
  • By mail: Download and print VA Form 10-10CG and mail it to the address listed on the form.
  • In person: Bring your completed VA Form 10-10CG to your local CSP Teams/Caregiver Support Coordinators.

Note that caregivers are designated on the application. If the veteran wants to add or change caregivers at a later date, they’ll need to submit a new application.

For assistance, veterans and caretakers can contact the Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274 or use the Caregiver Support Coordinator Locator tool online.

About The Author

Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is a Personal Finance Writer and educator who's been helping people improve their financial wellness since 2013. Sarah writes for Experian, Investopedia and more, and she's been syndicated by Yahoo! News and MSN. She is a workshop facilitator and former consultant for the City of San Francisco's Affordable Home Buyer Programs, as well as a former Certified Housing & Credit Counselor (HUD, NFCC). Sarah can be contacted via sarahcbrady.com.

Sources:

  1. N.A. (2016, December) Fact Sheet 11-02. Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/docs/pubfiles/factsheets/FactSheet_11-02.pdf
  2. N.A. (2020, October 1) Veterans Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Eligibility Criteria Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.caregiver.va.gov/pdfs/MIssionAct/EligibilityCriteriaFactsheet_Chapter2_Launch_Approved_Final_100120.pdf.
  3. N.A. (2021, April) INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMPLETING APPLICATION FOR THE PROGRAM OF COMPREHENSIVE ASSISTANCE FOR FAMILY CAREGIVERS. Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/vaforms/medical/pdf/10-10CG.pdf
  4. N.A. (2021, December 17). Veterans Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. Retrieved from https://www.caregiver.va.gov/pdfs/FactSheets/Monthly-Caregiver-Stipend-Factsheet.pdf
  5. N.A. (ND) Caregiver Support Program Two Programs: What’s the Difference? Retrieved from https://www.caregiver.va.gov/pdfs/FactSheets/CSP-Compare-Chart-508.pdf
  6. N.A. (ND) The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/family-member-benefits/comprehensive-assistance-for-family-caregivers/
  7. N.A. (ND) VA Caregiver Support Program. Retrieved from https://www.caregiver.va.gov/index.asp