Tester Statement on VA Extending Eligibility for Legacy Veterans and Family Caregivers
Following sustained efforts from Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced it will extend Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) eligibility for certain veterans and their family caregivers through September 30, 2025. The Senator released the following statement:
“This is great news for veterans and their caregivers who can breathe easy knowing they will keep receiving the critical support they need and deserve under VA’s Caregiver Program. While there’s still work to be done, the Biden Administration’s swift action will ensure legacy veterans and their caregivers are not discharged from a program that has made a difference for so many.”
Under the Trump Administration, VA defied Congress and the concerns of veterans and caregivers by enacting regulations that narrowed the Program’s eligibility to veterans with a 70 percent or higher service-connected disability rating, and those with an inability to perform an activity of daily living without assistance each and every time the activity occurs. This led to thousands of veterans and caregivers across the country, including Montana, receiving notifications they were to be discharged from the Program, and leaving many more concerned that eligibility requirements and reassessments would be used to discharge them from the Program in the future. If fully enacted, these new regulations would have led to an estimated 90 percent of Post-9/11 veterans losing their eligibility for the Program.
In response to the Trump Administration’s restrictive regulations, Tester raised concerns and urged Secretary McDonough to reconsider the Department’s tightened eligibility and delayed roll-out of the Caregivers Program. Following Tester’s push, McDonough announced sweeping changes to the Program earlier this year. At a Committee oversight hearing in March, Tester called on VA Secretary Denis McDonough to revise the Program’s eligibility requirements and reform the reassessment processes to ensure the Caregivers Program is meeting the intent of Congress. The Senator also led a bipartisan push in April, urging transparency and updated guidance on the Department’s recent changes to the Program.
Tester led the fight for years to expand the Caregivers Program to veterans of all eras—successfully including language in the bipartisan VA MISSION Act of 2018. The Biden Administration’s expansion of eligibility to all veterans under this program will be implemented on October 1 of this year.