After National Public Radio reported that dozens of regional medical centers were cutting back the number of families that could receive benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs caregiver support program, possibly illegally, the VA announced it would provide a full review of the benefit program over the next three weeks. The Department will not withdraw any benefits from current individuals in the program until the review is complete.
The review will look at whether officials are taking proper steps to explain benefit changes to caregivers in the program and whether the rules governing the program are being evaluated consistently. As VA Secretary David Shulkin explained, the review is needed “to ensure we honor our commitment to enhance the health and well-being of veterans.”
Payouts to caregivers in the program are approximately several thousand dollars each month; the benefits are set up to cover lost income when an individual assumes full-time caregiving duties to a loved one.
While the review is pending, the VA will continue to process new caregiver applicants, and training and education programs conducted through the Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program will continue. However, cases of beneficiaries whose benefits were lessened or eliminated entirely will be put on hold until the middle of May.
Currently, about 22,000 caregivers are enrolled in the program.