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VA Benefits – A Little of the Old and a Little of the New

By Trish Hughes Kreis, Staff Writer
(Page 2 of 3)  

Recently enacted legislation has also brought long-awaited help for caregivers of veterans. Changes in the VA benefits for post 9/11 veterans include numerous services for both veterans and their caregivers.

  1. Where do I start? There are two ways to get information about the services you may qualify for. Visit the US Department of Veterans Affairs Web site for caregivers at www.caregiver.va.gov. Also, the toll-free VA Caregiver Support Line at 855-260-3274 provides assistance and operates every day except Sunday.

  2. Who is eligible? Eligible veterans must have sustained a serious injury in the line of duty after 9/11 and must need assistance for one or more personal care activities due to neurological impairment or injury. Veterans must also be enrolled for VA health services (if you are not already enrolled, please visit www.va.gov/healtheligibility/application to enroll now).

  3. What services are available? Numerous services, as well as monetary assistance, are available once eligibility has been established. These include a monthly stipend (early applicants have already started receiving their checks this month). Also, money is available for travel expenses while accompanying veterans to appointments for care and treatment (including a per diem allowance and lodging). Mental health services and counseling are available as is caregiver training (which is provided by Easter Seals, a leader in caring for the disabled). Another service available is respite care which would allow a break for the caregiver by providing a professional caregiver to care for the veteran for up to 30 days per year.

  4. How do I apply? To see if you may qualify, please visit www.va.gov/healtheligibility/caregiver to answer four brief questions. At the end of the questionnaire, you will be directed to the full application. The application for eligibility can also be directly accessed at https://www.1010ez.med.va.gov/sec/vha/1010ez/Form/10-10CG.pdf. Caregiver Support Coordinators are available at every VA medical center to assist with the application process and to answer questions about the benefits available as well as the application process itself. Additional assistance is available by calling the toll-free number 877-222-VETS (8387).

  5. What happens next? Within three days of filing the initial application, the Caregiver Support Coordinator will arrange for the veteran’s caregiver to complete the application and will coordinate the caregiver training. An assessment will be done to determine the veteran’s needs and what assistance is needed with daily living activities. The caregiver then completes the training. They even have training available (either online or through a self-study book and DVD) which can be completed at home. Caregivers know it can be difficult to leave their loved one for even a short amount of time, so this home study option is an example of how well thought out the program is. There is a home visit after the training and once that has been completed and everything has been approved, the monthly stipend will start arriving. For those who applied soon after this program started in May, the stipends were already arriving in July. The earlier you apply, the quicker the benefits will be available.


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