How Much Does VA Pay for Respite Care? Understanding Your Benefits and Eligibility

January 24, 2024
Giselle Bardwell
Respite care provides temporary relief to primary caregivers, allowing them to take breaks or handle other responsibilities while ensuring their loved ones continue to receive the required care and support. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers respite care services to eligible veterans and their caregivers, providing essential assistance and financial support to ease the burden on both parties involved.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore how much the VA pays for respite care and how many hours of respite care you are allowed. 

Understanding Respite Care: A Brief Overview

Before diving into the specifics of VA respite care coverage, it's essential to understand the basics of respite care. First and foremost, respite care is meant to provide a temporary break for primary caregivers. These breaks can range from a few hours to several weeks, depending on the care recipient's needs and caregiver's circumstances. Respite care services can be provided within the home, in adult day programs, or in residential care facilities.

Respite care is essential as the prolonged care of a loved one can take its toll. You may also benefit from knowing when it’s time for respite care and read some tips to prevent caregiver burnout.

Respite care benefits not only the caregiver but also the veteran by providing opportunities for socialization, engagement, and change of scenery. When caregivers take time for themselves, they can recharge and better attend to their caregiving responsibilities. This not only improves the quality of care for the veteran but also maintains the caregiver's overall well-being.

VA Respite Care Payment Rates: How Much Does It Pay?

The Central Ohio VA provides respite care benefits through various programs, such as the VA Medical Foster Home (MFH) program and the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) program, which offer different types of respite care services to eligible veterans. The payment rates for respite care services depend on the specific program and the individual needs of the veteran, considering factors like their level of care and service-connected disability rating.

For instance, in 2022, the VA Caregiver Support Program's respite care services provided reimbursement for up to 30 days of care each calendar year, while rates were determined based on service-connected status and care level. Similar services provided by a VA-contracted medical foster home had their rates determined by Northeast Ohio VA Caregiver Support Coordinators. It’s also important to note that geographical location plays a factor and the benefits in the Cleveland area are different from the benefits of veterans who live elsewhere.

To find the exact payment rates for your specific situation, it's crucial to connect with your VA case manager or social worker for accurate figures based on your unique case.

Accessing Respite Care Hours: What Are You Allowed?

The hours of respite care allowed by the VA depend on the veteran's care needs and the caregiver's circumstances. According to the VA's Caregiver Support Program, eligible veterans are entitled to up to 30 days of respite care services per calendar year.

These hours can be utilized for in-home care, depending on the family's preference and the veteran's needs. Additionally, the VA offers respite care options that cater to veterans with various needs, ranging from adults with dementia to individuals requiring end-of-life care.

It's important to note that these hours are flexible. Caregivers can choose to use them in shorter increments, spreading their respite care services throughout the year, or use them all at once for a more extended period. Planning with the veteran and the primary healthcare team will help determine the optimal usage of these hours to ensure the best possible care for the veteran and the most convenient arrangement for the caregiver.

Eligibility Criteria for VA Respite Care

Now that we have established the scope of respite care hours and payment rates, it's essential to dive into the eligibility requirements. Factors that contribute to a veteran's eligibility for respite care services include their VA healthcare enrollment, service-connected disability rating, and level of care needed.

Generally, the following criteria must be met for veterans to be eligible for VA respite care:
  1. The veteran is enrolled in VA healthcare and has a VA primary care provider.
  2. The veteran has a minimum service-connected disability rating of 30%.
  3. The veteran requires assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) or is housebound.
  4. There is a primary caregiver who provides a considerable amount of daily assistance to the veteran.

Additionally, priority may be given to veterans with financial needs, newly discharged combat veterans, and veterans with high levels of care needs. It's crucial to consult your Ohio VA case manager for a complete assessment of your eligibility to receive respite care benefits.

Accessing VA Respite Care for Your Needs

The VA offers valuable financial and service support to veterans and their caregivers through its respite care programs. Understanding and accessing these benefits can significantly ease the caregiving burden while promoting the well-being and quality of life of both the veteran and caregiver.

Once you’ve determined your eligibility and have received approval from your VA case manager, call BrightStar Care Cleveland! We’re happy to complete an in-person assessment and discuss the number of hours you’d like to use for respite care. When you are ready, give us a call at 440. 613.1500 or contact us through our website.