Update on Caregiver Expansion
By PVA National Staff
Under the VA MISSION Act, veterans who sustained a serious military-related injury before May 7, 1975, were supposed to be able to enroll in VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) starting this fall. But, as we have previously reported, VA was unable to launch its new management system for the program so veterans will have to wait until at least June 2020 for entry. The timeline shift also pushes back eligibility for families of veterans who served from 1975 to 2001, from fall 2021 to fall 2022 at the earliest.
Meanwhile, VA is current working on new guidance for the program that could constrain eligibility for the VA’s comprehensive caregiver program. Additionally, the current moratorium on discharges from the program and decreases in assistance will eventually be lifted. Thus, Congress needs to take steps now to ensure veterans applying for this program are evaluated through a process that is systematic and fair.
S.2216, the Transparency and Effective Accountability Measures for Veteran Caregivers Act, would require VA to allow veterans to identify more than one caregiver in their health record and to notify veterans’ caregivers of clinical determinations made concerning the veteran’s eligibility for the caregiver program. Any notification must be by letter and include the following information:
- A summary of the issues adjudicated;
- A summary of the evidence considered by VA;
- A summary of the applicable laws and regulations;
- Identification of findings favorable to the claimant;
- In the case of a denial, identification of elements not satisfied leading to the denial;
- An explanation of how to obtain or access evidence used in making the decision; and
- If applicable, identification of the criteria that must be satisfied to grant service connection or the next higher level of compensation.
- 2216 would also require VA to temporarily extend caregiver benefits to any veteran who has been determined no longer clinically eligible for an additional 90 days after the date of notification.
The bill is sponsored by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and has 14 cosponsors.
Sen. Blackburn, Marsha [R-TN]* Sen. McSally, Martha [R-AZ]
Sen. Kaine, Tim [D-VA] Sen. Rosen, Jacky [D-NV]
Sen. Moran, Jerry [R-KS] Sen. Collins, Susan M. [R-ME]
Sen. Sinema, Kyrsten [D-AZ] Sen. Murkowski, Lisa [R-AK]
Sen. Jones, Doug [D-AL] Sen. Klobuchar, Amy [D-MN]
Sen. Durbin, Richard J. [D-IL] Sen. Merkley, Jeff [D-OR]
Sen. Alexander, Lamar [R-TN] Sen. Cortez Masto, Catherine [D-NV]
*Denotes Original Cosponsor
PVA has been actively promoting this important legislation. If your senators are not listed here, please contact their offices and urge them to cosponsor S. 2216. There is not currently a House companion for this legislation.