Congressional officials originally expected the Caregiver Benefits Plan to cover 3,500 families of wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. VA officials said they anticipate coverage based on the new guidelines to extend to only about 850 families.
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VA Caregiver Benefits Exclude Many Military Families

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When Ted Wade lost his right arm and suffered traumatic brain injury while serving in Iraq in 2004, his wife, Sarah Wade left her job to care for him full time. Both Ted and Sarah Wade were advocates for caregivers' benefits and worked with lawmakers on caregivers' legislation.

But proposed revisions in the VA-revised Caregiver Benefits Plan were devastating news to Ted and Sarah. Under the new guidelines for the VA Caregiver Benefits Plan, Ted's condition may not even qualify them for monthly living stipends and other benefits they helped to write into law. Ironically, the revised plan for provide benefits to caregivers of wounded military service members might exclude many of the families present at the original Caregiver Benefits Bill signing alongside President Obama in 2010.

MILITARY CAREGIVERS WAITING FOR PAYMENTS

Military families are already financially strained by lengthy timelines for receiving their healthcare benefits, according to Steve Nardizzi, executive director of Wounded Warrior Project.

Under the original Caregiver Benefits Bill passed by Congress in 2010, the VA would start paying caregivers by January 2011. As of Feb. 2011, department officials said it could be months before the Plan is even finalized, estimating a longer stretch of waiting time before military families receive benefits checks.

Also, the Caregivers Benefits Plan would only cover veterans with the most severe injuries requiring "continuing medical management or at high risk for personal safety." Many wounded veterans, like Ted Wade, require around-the-clock care without qualifying for caregiver benefits under these restrictions.

REDUCTION IN COVERED MILITARY FAMILIES IS TROUBLESOME

Congressional officials originally expected the Caregiver Benefits Plan to cover 3,500 families of wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans; VA officials said they anticipate coverage based on the new guidelines to extend to only about 850 families.

THE FATE OF FAMILIES AND CAREGIVERS BENEFITS INTERTWINED

The VA revised proposal, released in Feb. 2011, outraged lawmakers and military service members, with a restrictive veterans' caregivers benefits plan that is too little, too late. Senators are taking a stand against revised and delayed caregivers' benefits. By mid-2011, seventeen U.S. senators had sent letters to the White House demanding expedited military caregiver benefits. According to VA Spokesperson Katie Roberts, the VA still plans to review their plans and decisions.



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