Thanks to a class-action lawsuit, a website has been launched to help seriously disabled veterans and their family caregivers navigate the appeals process for benefits decisions under the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers – also known as the Caregiver Program. The website provides important information about the class action, key court decisions related to the case, and how to appeal Caregiver Program decisions to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. For veterans and caregivers who appeal, the Board could decide they are entitled to reinstatement to the program, increased benefits, and/or back pay of benefits previously denied.
Visit the site here: https://VACaregiverClassAction.com/
For a decade, veterans and caregivers were denied the right to appeal adverse decisions related to the VA’s Caregiver Program, but thanks to the landmark Beaudette v. McDonough class action, in April 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims ruled that veterans and caregivers seeking benefits under the Caregiver Program must be allowed to appeal decisions to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. The lawsuit was filed in 2020 by The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), Public Counsel, and pro bono counsel Paul Hastings LLP, on behalf of thousands of veterans and caregivers seeking to end an egregious denial of their due process rights.
Congress created the Caregiver Program in 2010, recognizing the vital role that family caregivers play in supporting seriously injured veterans. The program provides healthcare and financial support for family members who provide care, recognizing that their services can be all-consuming full-time work.
Since its inception, however, the program has been riddled with problems. The Veterans Health Administration has applied inconsistent rules and standards across the country, and there have been numerous reports of arbitrary and wrongful reduction or termination of benefits. As of 2019, there had been 400,000 applications for the program, but less than 20,000 veterans were enrolled. Compounding these problems, until the court’s decision last year, there had been no avenue to appeal the denial, reduction, or termination of caregiver benefits other than the Veterans’ Health Administration administrative appeals process.
Thanks to the Beaudette lawsuit, all veterans and family caregivers who applied for benefits under the Caregiver Program are now allowed to appeal any benefits decision. The VA started sending notices to impacted veterans in late November 2021 informing them of their right to appeal.