VA’s Caregiving Program Is Still Dropping Veterans with Disabilities
In 2015, veterans and their caregivers began sharing reports about being cut from the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC). The program pays a stipend to family members, often a wife or mother, of a disabled Post 9/11 veteran, who provide care. The stipend ranges from a a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars a month depending on the severity of the disability and the market rate for caregivers. The program also provides medical training and access to other services.
In April of 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs suspended revocations initiated by VA medical centers based on eligibility for the PCAFC, in order to conduct an internal review that would evaluate the consistency of the program nationwide.
Then-VA Secretary David Shulkin took action by ordering an internal review that was intended to evaluate the consistency of program revocation, and also standardize communication with veterans and caregivers nationwide.
“It became very clear to me that we had inconsistencies in this program and that it wasn’t working the way that we thought it should,” said Shulkin. “There were rates of revocations that were in the very, very high levels (which) other programs didn’t have and that was really unacceptable.”
Based on their review, the VA has made significant changes to the program that will affect policy and execution moving forward.
The VA will make sure that a consistent message is sent to those veterans discharged from the program, while also providing plain language explanations for the reason behind the revocation.
The VA has also updated its Roles, Responsibilities, and Requirements document that will be used in the execution of the PCAFC. This document, posted on the VA website, will ensure compliance with current regulations. This document will be used to maintain consistency across the program, and caregivers will have the opportunity to walk through the document upon entry into the program.