Critter Corner: Extra Financial Assistance for Caregivers at This Time

Dear Oakley,

I am a caregiver for my aunt who has dementia, and who is also a veteran. I used to work part-time in addition to caregiving, but lost my job during the COVID-19 pandemic. Do you know of any extra financial assistance programs during this time? Thanks for your help!

Keir Giver

Dear Keir,

It is commendable that you take care of your aunt. I’m sorry to hear that you lost your job! I am happy to share my research on this subject, and I hope it will help you and other caregivers that can use financial assistance at this time. First, I’ll share about a couple state and federal programs, and then I’ll fill you in on a program specifically for caregivers of veterans that is being expanded at this time.

Federal and State Caregiver Assistance Programs

To help families during the pandemic, the following programs have been put into place:

  • Since early March 2020, states have been able to apply for what are known as “Medicaid Emergency Preparedness and Response for Home and Community Based Appendix K Waivers.” According to the National Academy for State Health Policy, 17 states and Washington, D.C. are using the flexibility provided by Appendix K to compensate family caregivers, sometimes including spouses.
  • The National Family Caregiver Support Program, part of the Older Americans Act, doesn’t provide compensation to family members who are caregivers, but does pay outside caregivers to provide respite care, or occasional care, when family caregivers need a break. The funds are disbursed through local Agencies on Aging and other organizations helping people over 60.
  • And on March 27, 2020, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law, providing almost a billion dollars in grants to help older Americans and their family caregivers during the COVID-19 crisis. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $955 million in grants from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to help meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities as communities implement measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The grants help fund home-delivered meals; care services in the home; respite care and other support to families and caregivers; information about and referral to supports; and more. Learn more

Veteran Caregiver Assistance Programs

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is working to give more people access to the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC). Currently, only caregivers of veterans who suffered a qualifying injury on or after Sep. 11, 2001 are eligible for this program.  Effective Oct. 1, 2020 eligibility for the program will expand to veterans with service before May 5, 1975 and at least a 70% disability. Also, on that date, the amount of the monthly stipend will change.

Caregivers of eligible veterans can receive:

  • A monthly stipend
  • Travel expenses (including lodging and per diem while accompanying veterans undergoing care)
  • Access to health care insurance (if the caregiver is not already entitled to care or services under a health care plan)
  • Mental health services and counseling
  • Comprehensive VA Caregiver training provided by Easter Seals
  • Respite care

Visit the VA’s caregiver page for more information, and to apply for these services.

Hope this is helpful.

Oakley

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