Thousands of veterans caregivers could see their Veterans Affairs stipends reduced or taken away completely under a series of case reviews planned over the next year to ensure long-time participants still qualify for the benefit.
Veterans Affairs officials said that no families currently in the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers will see reductions in stipends before fall of next year, and families being removed from the program won’t have the financial support cut off until early 2023.
But the move still means the looming loss of thousands of dollars a month for some families of veterans with serious, lingering service injuries.
About 33,000 individuals are currently enrolled in the program. The program provides support services and monthly stipends to caregivers of veterans unable to perform basic self-care activities.
Program Executive Director Colleen Richardson said the reviews will cover about 19,800 “legacy” participants. They all of whom entered the program before October 2020. Before then, only veterans who left the ranks after September 2001 were eligible to apply for the program.
Officials expect about one-third of that group to be completely dropped from the program after the review, based on preliminary work. It’s unclear how many more could see reductions in the amount of financial support they receive each month.
In addition, some veterans could see increases in the amount of payouts they receive. This will be the case, if reviews find they are eligible for more support.
Reductions might begin in 2022
Department officials hope to complete the reviews in the next six months. But Richardson said no stipend reductions will take place before October 2022. This will ensure that ensure that families are given time to deal with the financial impact of the moves.
Caregivers being dropped from the program will get an additional five months of payments as they transition out, Richardson said. (continue reading)