VA Pauses Veterans’ Caregiver Purge With Citations To Veterans Warriors Lawsuit
In an unusual rules reversal, the VA backed away from cutting thousands of beneficiaries from the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC). The review was to be completed late in 2022. The VA has extended the review for an additional three years. The VA originally planned to complete its study and review and to apply new eligibility requirements for veterans and transition many recipients out of the program.
The three-year delay affects around 33,000 families enrolled in PCAFC.
The eligibility reviews included nearly 20,000 “legacy” participants, who entered the program before October 2020. VA officials admitted that they would have likely dropped nearly 7,000 families and imposed benefit reductions to an additional undetermined number of families.
Disabled veterans’ caregivers save taxpayers about $13 billion annually, according to a 2013 RAND study commissioned by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. While caregivers receive around $1,500 monthly on average and are on the job 24 hours a day, in-home care through a licensed provider could cost up to $15,000 a month.
Veteran Warriors Inc., challenged the VA’s ruling as, “Not only unlawful (but) it would cut off veterans and their caregivers from a program of benefits and services they desperately need.” The press release by the National Veterans Legal Services Program characterizes the VA’s adoption of its Final Rule as “not only unlawful, (but) it would cut off veterans from their caregivers from a program of benefits and services they desperately need.”
After Veteran Warriors finally got the VA’s attention on what was clearly a misapplication of the statute through arbitrary rulemaking, the VA opted for an “additional three-year transition period” while it “completes the remaining reassessments…” of eligible veterans and their caregivers. The VA cited the Veteran Warriors lawsuit over 30 times in its Interim Final Rule.
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