(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, applauded the announcement by the Department of Veterans of Affairs (VA) that they have started accepting and processing applications for the critical caregiver benefits program. After only a week and a half, the VA has assisted over 625 veterans, servicemembers, and caregivers apply to receive the new benefits provided under the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010. This program will provide much-needed and long-awaited financial and health care support to family members caring for severely wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
“I’m very pleased that in the first week and a half of accepting applications for this critical program, the VA has helped more than 625 veterans, servicemembers, and family caregivers start the process to receive new benefits,” said Chairman Murray. “Family members who have left behind careers, lives, and responsibilities to care for their loved ones while they recover from wounds they suffered defending our country can finally start receiving the financial support and care they need and deserve.”
Applications can be processed by telephone through the Caregiver Support Line at (855) 260-3274, in person at a VA medical Center with a Caregiver Support Coordinator, by mail or online at www.caregiver.va.gov with the new Caregiver Application (VA Form 1010-CG). The website application also features a chat option that provides the Family Caregiver with a live representative to assist in completing the application form.
As Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Murray has led congressional efforts to push the VA to stop delaying the implementation of the caregivers’ benefits programs and restore the eligibility criteria to the intent of Congress when the Caregivers program was passed last year. In fact, since the criteria limiting eligibility for certain caregivers was announced by the VA in early February of this year Senator Murray has taken numerous steps to fight the decision including:
• Personally discussing the issue with President Obama in the Oval Office,
• Questioning VA Secretary Eric Shinseki on the program changes and delays in front of her Committee,
• Sending a bi-partisan letter, cosigned by 17 other Senators, calling on the Administration to end delays in moving forward with the law, and
• Joining with leaders of the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees to call on President Obama to stop the VA from severely limiting the benefit.