Often, family members step into the role of caregiver when veterans require help performing basic daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, moving around and eating. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes the emotional and financial strain that caregivers experience.
Benefits may be available to help caregivers successfully fulfill their role in a veteran’s life.
A veteran may be eligible to have a family caregiver if he or she meets the following criteria:
- The U.S. military has discharged the veteran, or he or she has a medical discharge date
- On or since Sept. 11, 2001, the veteran sustained a serious injury in active-duty service or had an injury that active-duty service worsened
- For six months or more, the veteran needs continuous personal care
The family caregiver must be willing to live with the veteran full-time. An applicant must be at least 18 years of age, and he or she must be a relative. The veteran’s spouse, adult children, parents, stepfamily members and extended family members may apply. The veteran may choose a primary caregiver as well as two secondary family caregivers to provide support to the primary caregiver.
The VA offers primary and secondary family caregivers education and training to successfully fill the role. Family caregivers also may receive counseling and other mental health services. When the veteran needs to travel to receive care, benefits cover the caregiver’s travel expenses and lodging and some financial assistance.
The primary family caregiver may also receive a monthly payment, as well as health care benefits.
The VA has other programs that provide assistance and benefits to caregivers if a veteran is not eligible for the family caregiver program.