Get your CPR/FIRST AID CARD $9.99

Maximizing Support: A Comprehensive Guide to Veteran Caregiver Benefits

Maximizing Support: A Comprehensive Guide to Veteran Caregiver Benefits

Are you a caregiver looking after a loved one who is a senior veteran? You might be eligible for veteran caregiver benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has several programs and benefits that come in handy to help the families of senior veterans with financial burdens.

However, not many people understand how the VA caregiver benefits work. This, combined with so many grey areas of VA benefits, makes it daunting for families of senior veterans to navigate. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll be helping you understand these benefits and how they work so you can navigate them with ease.

The VA Caregiver Support Program

The VA caregiver support program comprises the Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS) and the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC). Even though they sound so similar, they have a slight difference.

Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC)

If a veteran sustains serious injuries while performing their duties, they may be eligible for the PCAFC benefits so long as they meet the eligibility criteria. This means that their children, spouse, or caregiver can also benefit from the program. In the case of caregivers, they must be family members of the veteran to be eligible.

Under this program, the veteran is allowed to choose a primary caregiver, who could be their spouse or one of their children. They can also appoint two other caregivers within the family to act as backups. These caregivers may be entitled to a financial stipend and other healthcare benefits via the Civilian Health and Medical Program.

Additionally, they may also receive caregiver training and education, financial assistance, and mental health counseling. It also offers caregiver assistance programs where a caregiver may also receive a minimum of 30 days a year of respite care. Once enrolled in the PCAFC program, the caregivers may also get access to the same training and mentorship that PGCSS caregivers receive.

PCAFC Qualification Criteria

PCAFC Qualification Criteria

Both the veteran under care and the caregiver must meet the list of requirements to start receiving PCAFC benefits. The caregiver needs to be at least 18 years old and can be a child, spouse, parent, extended family member, or stepfamily member of the veteran. Additionally, they must be already living with the veteran full-time or at least be ready to do so.

As for the veterans, they need to have at least a 70% VA disability rating. Also, they must already have been discharged from service or at least received their date of discharge. Lastly, the veteran must have received a minimum of six months of ongoing in-person care service.

PCAFC Application

Applications for PCAFC are done online on the VA website. The caregiver must apply together with the veteran. If you have any queries or would like assistance on how to apply, get in touch with your local VA Caregiver Support Program. Alternatively, you can contact the VA caregiver support service at 855-260-3274.   

Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS)

This program offers various resources and support to caregivers looking after veterans needing help with supervision or activities of daily living. If you’re a caregiver taking care of a veteran who doesn’t qualify for PCAFC, then you can apply for PGCSS.

The PGCSS may not be as beneficial as PCAFC, however, the available benefits are sure to help caregivers take care of veterans. These benefits include mentorship and peer support, caregiver training and education, and telephone and online support programs.

PGCSS Eligibility Criteria

The requirements for veteran caregiver benefits under PGCSS are not as demanding as compared to PCAFC. For a caregiver to be eligible, the veteran under their care should be enrolled in the VA healthcare program. The veteran must also need assistance with at least one activity of daily living or supervision because of an underlying impairment. However, the caregiver doesn’t need to be a family member or be living with the veteran full-time.  

PGCSS Application

PGCSS Application

Caregivers need not worry about the application process as there isn’t any. To access PGCSS benefits, you only need to get in touch with your local VA’s Caregiver Support Program office or contact their support line at 855-260-3274.   

Determine which of these two VA Caregiver Support Programs the veteran you’re caring for meets the eligibility criteria. After that, work through the available options to ensure you and the veteran are benefiting from the program.

Home Health Aide

The Home Health Aide (HHA) program is an important facet of the VA’s home and community-based support services meant to help veterans and their caregivers. HHA offers personal care services to veterans who need help with activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).

These activities include help with mobility, grooming, feeding, toileting, and medication reminders. In this program, the caregivers can come from care companies contracted by the VA. The HHAs usually attend to veterans for up to 10 hours per week. The program also offers disabled veteran caregiver benefits to aid in the delivery of care to a veteran.

Some of the veteran caregiver benefits include receiving respite care that allows primary caregivers to rest, therefore reducing stress and preventing caregiver burnout. Caregivers also get support from qualified aides to help them manage complex veteran needs.

HHA Program Eligibility Criteria

There are no strict eligibility requirements other than a veteran being enrolled in the VA healthcare system. A veteran has to be assessed by a VA healthcare provider to determine if they’re functionally limited and the level of help needed.

HHA Program Application

Veterans and their caregivers who wish to join the HHA program need to call their VA primary care provider at 800-698-2411. After application, the veteran’s needs will be assessed to establish the level of care they need. Once approved, the VA authorizes an approved care service provider to offer the needed care.

Aid and Attendance

Aid and Attendance

Aid and Attendance (A&A) is a veteran caregiving program administered by the VA to offer long-term veteran caregiver benefits. This program offers spousal caregiver financial support in the form of monthly reimbursements for all expenses incurred by the spouse of a veteran under care. The veteran could be living at a care facility or receiving care from their own home.

The amount of reimbursement varies and depends on the marital status of the recipient and whether they’re applying as a surviving spouse of a veteran. The maximum annual benefits include:

  • Up to $26,752 for unmarried veterans.
  • Approximately $31,714 for a veteran with one dependent.
  • Surviving spouse can receive up to $17,192.
  • Two veterans married to each other can receive approximately $42,433.

At the moment, there is no VA caregiver pay calculator to determine the rates that apply to you. Instead, the amount is determined by the VA. Also, the rates change each year and are adjusted according to the prevailing annual cost of living.

A&A is a lifetime benefit that comes with zero tax obligations and won’t need to be repaid so long as the payments are for a veteran’s care. It is different from Home Health Aide in that the caregiver can be any family member, a friend, or even a professional caregiver.

Also, the veteran and their spouse have the freedom to choose their preferred caregiving company. A&A doesn’t limit the number of hours a veteran can receive care.

Aid and Attendance Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for the A&A benefits, a veteran should have a VA pension and also meet one of the following requirements:

  • The veterans need assistance with activities of daily living.
  • The veteran must have actively served for a minimum of 90 days with at least a day during a wartime period.
  • Their discharge from service must be due to any other reason other than dishonorable. However, upon correcting a discharge, a veteran may be able to qualify for the A&A benefit.
  • Spend a significant part of the day in bed due to an illness.
  • Stay at a nursing home following loss of physical or mental abilities.
  • Have limited eyesight with a 5/200 or less visual acuity even when wearing contact lenses or glasses.

Aid and Attendance Application

Aid and Attendance Application

To apply for the A&A veteran caregiver benefits, fill out the VA Form 21-2680 and mail it to the pension management center for your state. Ensure your application is accompanied by a medical report that shows the need for aid and attendance. Also, include financial information containing net worth and any other out-of-pocket medical expenses.

After completing the paperwork, you can submit your application in person or via mail to the regional VA office.

Veteran-Directed Care

Veteran-Directed Care (VDC) is also known as the Veteran Directed Home and Community Based Services (VD-HCBS) program. It’s designed to allow veterans to personalize their care needs in a way that best suits them. VDC differs from other VA benefits in that it gives veterans control over their care budgets and allows them to choose their caregivers, who can also be family members.

Under VDC, spouses can receive veteran spouse caregiver benefits which include financial compensation for the services they offer. This can help to a great extent in alleviating the financial burden they have to bear while caring for veterans.

VDC Eligibility Criteria

There are several requirements that veterans and caregivers must meet to be eligible:

  • The veteran needs to be enrolled in the VA healthcare system for the caregivers to benefit.
  • Veterans must require help with activities of daily living.
  • They should be capable of directing how they would like to receive care, but can also have a caregiver to act on their behalf.

A VA healthcare provider assesses the veteran to ensure they meet these eligibility requirements for the VDC program.

VDC Program Application

Applying to the VDC program involves several steps. First, the veteran or their caregiver can inquire and express their interest at a local VA Medical Center. The enrolment involves the veteran being assessed to determine their eligibility for VDC and their needs.

After approval, the veteran coordinating with their local Aging and Disability Network partner or a VA coordinator, creates a personalized care plan. The veteran then receives their budget allocation, which they can use to hire caregivers and purchase other care services.


Veteran caregivers contribute a lot in making sure those who have served our country are well taken care of. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes this and that’s why they have several veteran caregiver benefits programs to support veterans and their caregivers. Through the above-outlined benefits, the VA ensures caregivers have access to the resources they need to meet the physical, emotional, and financial demands of caregiving. 


Keep Learning

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name *

Translate »