Benefit Programs for Caregivers of Veterans

Q. Several members of my family are military veterans, including my father (who is severely disabled) and myself. I remember reading about caregiver benefits for veterans and their families over the past few years. When I looked into this in the past, I concluded that my father wasn’t eligible due to the dates he served, but I think I saw something recently saying that this has changed?

I am caring for my father right now and can really use any financial help we can get, especially with inflation making everything so expensive these days. Can you tell me more about any veterans’ caregiver programs that might be available, and the eligibility requirements, to see if we should apply? Thanks for your help!

A. Thank you for your question, and a BIG THANK YOU to you and your father for your service! Today is Veterans Day, and we are celebrating you and the service of all of our U.S. military veterans! There are at least three programs that we are aware of that might be a benefit to you, as a caregiver of a veteran, and your family:

  • The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA);
  • The Program of General Caregiver Support Services, also run by the VA; and
  • The Independence Program run by The Wounded Warrior Project® 

Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers 

About 33,000 families are currently enrolled in the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC), a program that offers support for eligible family caregivers of eligible veterans through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The great news is that this program has recently expanded to cover caregivers of veterans of all eras who are medically eligible for the program. 

Initially the program was open only to post-9/11 veterans, but in 2018 as part of the Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act, the VA gave more family caregivers access to PCAFC so they too can be supported as they care for our nation’s injured veterans. The VA has expanded the program in phases over recent years. Individuals who served before the end of the Vietnam War era (i.e., before May 7, 1975) were admitted into PCAFC starting in fall 2020, which we wrote about here. Now, as of September 21, 2022, family caregivers of veterans who were seriously injured in the line of duty during any service era became eligible, at least for the next three years (until September 30, 2025). This new phase is an additional three-year transition period for the VA, and hopefully this program will be continued after this three-year transition period. 

Who Is Now Eligible for PCAFC?

PCAFC offers enhanced support for eligible family caregivers of eligible veterans. As mentioned, the program is now open to all veterans who incurred serious injuries while serving on active duty.

However, of great importance is the fact that when determining the veteran’s eligibility, there is no longer a need to demonstrate a connection between the personal care services needed and the qualifying serious injury. “In most cases,” according to the VA, “the eligible veteran has multiple conditions that may warrant a need for personal care services. Veterans’ needs may be so complex that it can be difficult to determine what specific condition, out of many, causes the need for personal care services.” This change makes it much easier for veterans and their families to qualify for the PCAFC, even if their needs are not directly related to service-connected injuries. 

Currently, veterans may be eligible for this program if they:

  • Sustained or aggravated a serious injury or illness during active duty in any service era. Among other applicable eligibility criteria, an eligible Veteran must:
    • Have a single or combined service-connected disability rating by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) of 70 percent or more, and
    • Be in need of personal care services (requiring in-person personal care services) for a minimum of six continuous months based on any one of the following:
      • An inability to perform one or more activities of daily living;
      • A need for supervision or protection; or
      • A need for regular or extensive instruction or supervision without which the ability of the Veteran to function in daily life would be seriously impaired.   

A family caregiver must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Be either:
    • the eligible Veteran’s spouse, child, parent, stepfamily member, or extended family member; or
    • someone who lives with the eligible Veteran full-time or will do so if designated as a family caregiver.
  • Complete VA-required caregiver training and education, and demonstrate the ability to carry out the specific personal care services, core competencies, and additional care requirements.

To learn more about eligibility for veterans and caregivers, click here for the Eligibility Criteria Fact Sheet

What Does the PCAFC Offer for Veterans?

While the program offers a variety of legal and support services to families, the most prominent benefit is the monthly caregiver stipend. This is how the stipend works: 

  • Currently, a full-time caregiver tending to a veteran who is “unable to self-sustain in the community” can receive the full monthly stipend, while a caregiver for a veteran with lesser but still life-altering limitations can receive a partial payment;
  • There are two levels of payment that are based on the amount and degree of personal services a caregiver provides. The VA measures these levels based on whether a veteran is “unable to self-sustain in the community.”
    • Primary caregivers for veterans who are “unable to self-sustain in the community” are entitled to a Level 2 stipend, which is 100 percent of the available monthly rate, which is the OPM General Schedule (GS) Annual Rate for Grade 4, Step 1, based on the locality pay area in which the eligible Veteran resides
    • Primary family caregivers caring for veterans who are not “unable to self-sustain in the community” are entitled to a Level 1 stipend, which is 62.5% of the OPM General Schedule (GS) Annual Rate for Grade 4, Step 1, based on the locality pay area in which the eligible Veteran resides
    • Assuming a veteran living in the DC metro area, this equates to an annual salary for the caregiver of:
      •  $36,542 (roughly $3,045 per month) for the full Level 2 stipend; or
      •  $22,839 (roughly $1,903 per month) for the partial Level 1 stipend;

These are some of the additional benefits offered through PCAFC: 

Along with the monthly stipend, the caregiver program provides training opportunities, respite care options, family counseling, and other technical support. If you are the primary caregiver, in addition to the stipend, you may receive:

  • Access to health care insurance through Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA), if you do not already have health insurance.
  • Mental health counseling.
  • Certain beneficiary travel benefits when traveling with the Veteran to appointments. 
  • At least 30 days of respite care per year, for the veteran. Respite is short-term relief for someone else to care for the veteran while you take a break.
    • If you are the secondary caregiver, you may receive:
      • Mental health counseling.
  • Certain beneficiary travel benefits when traveling with the veteran to appointments. 

How Do I Apply for PCAFC?

Veterans and their family caregivers will need to apply for this program together. Applications can be filed online at, or applicants can download and complete a joint Application for the PCAFC (VA Form 10-10CG). The paper application must either be submitted by mail or hand-delivered to your local VA medical center’s Caregiver Support Coordinator. If a veteran has a court-appointed legal guardian, representative, or agent under power of attorney, the representative must sign on behalf of the veteran and include a copy of the valid POA document or guardianship paperwork.

Program of General Caregiver Support Services  

The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Caregiver Support Program (CSP) also offers the Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS) to help caregivers of veterans. PGCSS provides peer support mentoring, skills training, coaching, telephone support, online programs, and referrals to available resources to caregivers of veterans. The veteran must be enrolled in the VA health care system and be receiving care from a caregiver in order for the caregiver to participate. Caregivers who participate in PGCSS are called General Caregivers. General Caregivers do not need to be a relative or live with the Veteran.

For more information on this program, and to learn how to enroll, please click here

Wounded Warrior Project Independence Program 

The Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Independence Program is an incredibly valuable program that provides long-term support to catastrophically-wounded veterans living with injuries that impact their independence.

The program provides many types of support, including valuable caregiver support, to veterans who would otherwise struggle to live independently day to day due to the severity of their injuries. The Independence Program works as a team with veterans, their family members, and their caregivers to set goals to live a fulfilling life, at home, with their loved ones. The Farr Law Firm is a proud supporting member of this team, providing estate planning, financial planning, and long-term care planning services to qualified veterans. Please click here for a recent three-minute video about the WWP Independence Program and the Farr Law Firm’s involvement in this incredibly beneficial program. 

To learn more about the WWP Independence Program or to apply for benefits through the program, call 1-888.WWP.ALUM (997.2586) or click here.

We also help veterans obtain Aid and Attendance benefits and Disability Benefits.

Veterans Benefits Attorney Fairfax: 703-691-1888
Veterans Benefits Attorney Fredericksburg: 540-479-1435
Veterans Benefits Attorney Rockville: 301-519-8041
Veterans Benefits Attorney Washington, DC: 202-587-2797 

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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