Caregiver benefit expansion linked to tightened eligibility for veterans
By Tom Philpott
In drafting legislation that would expand comprehensive caregiver benefits to severely injured veterans of all past wars, Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, directed staff this month to start with the proposal announced by VA Secretary David Shulkin at a Feb. 6 committee hearing.
Shulkin said he supports extending caregiver benefits — which includes a monthly stipend, access to health-care insurance, caregiver training, stress counseling and a period of paid respite away from caregiver responsibilities — to people caring for veterans catastrophically injured in wars back to World War II.
However, as a condition for making benefits available to veterans injured before the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, Shulkin wants Congress to narrow eligibility criteria. Post-9/11 veterans now qualify for the comprehensive benefits if their physical or mental injuries prevent them from performing one or more activities of daily living, whether bathing, preparing meals or dressing themselves. It’s a level caregiver need medical experts describe as Tier 1.
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