For Immediate Release: March 23, 2022
RE: Senate Hearing on Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers
Washington, D.C – Today, Senator Tester led a Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing to get a better understanding of the catastrophe veterans and their caregivers are experiencing at the hands of VA’s new regulation for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers; testifying was VA, invited VSOs, and caregivers. The Committee showed a clear and undeniable concern for the operations of the program, Senator Moran voiced concern that a program intended to support caregivers should not cause harm. Sarah Verardo of The Independence Fund said it best in her testimony, “The bureaucratic delays to protect VA's systems and processes has consistently proven stronger than the desire to help veterans and caregivers." For far too long, VA has gotten away with unacceptable behavior, from documenting known inaccuracies within medical records, to disrespecting and degrading veteran families, to unethical practices which result in wrongful denial and termination of benefits.
The committee gave skeptical VSOs, like Veteran Warriors, and the veteran caregiver community a sense of hope as the Senators made it clear VA would make this program operate as Congress intended. The Senators also provided much needed validation to the veterans and caregivers who have been subjected to the abuse and wrongdoing at the hands of the program that was created to help them, as multiple Senators stated it was never Congress’ intent to restrict the program, intent was to help our veterans and families, and it would be corrected.
Just one day before the hearing, in what we firmly believe to have been an attempt to settle the masses (caregivers), VA announced the eligibility criteria would be “reviewed” and no one would be discharged or lowered in level of care until after the review, the language was vague and questionable with no solid evidence to support change. Having been here twice before here, we had grave concerns for VA “pauses” and in true Veteran Warriors fashion, we made it crystal clear that nothing was set in stone, and that we wanted to see real change to ensure our community did not experience further harm. Instead of following blindly, we are cautious and voice concerns, demanded evidence to show change in VA behavior and intent, after all, just a couple weeks ago veterans and caregivers were said to be a “small minority” who were “unhappy” with the personal of the changes impact the on their families. And, we must not forget there have been two prior pauses, both resulted in significant community harm immediately following the lift of the pause because VA continued business as usual while deceiving Congress, veterans, and caregivers. Based on the facts and our concern for our veterans and caregivers, our caution and questioning of proof is warranted. Words without evidence of change, particularly when those words have been said before meant nothing holds the potential for an already vulnerable community to be subjected to more harm.
Furthermore, VA continues to believe they do no wrong, for instance claiming they have just identified “unintended consequences” even though that is factually incorrect. VSOs, veterans, and caregivers have been voicing concerns for years, it’s been extremely heavy over the last two years when VA opened the program and started denying elderly veterans. Claiming “unintended consequences” is another way to avoid accepting responsibility. VA could have fixed this without putting over 20,000 families through pure torture and heartache, they didn’t want to, that was evident by, today’s testimony defending their redundant assessments. It's been a long uphill battle, but today’s hearing was significant process and a solid win for our veterans and their caregivers. We were pleased to hear the Senators intend to right the wrongs for our community, ensure more oversight over the program, and most importantly, to be involved in the rule making process while requiring VA to be very transparent with VSOs. There are a lot of systemic issues, and the program requires a complete overhaul, every discharge and denial should be revisited, every record that is improperly documented should be corrected. We are counting on Congress to ensure accountability as a protective measure for our most vulnerable veterans. We must ensure all VSOs and stakeholders are included in all discussions so that all voices are heard. This fight is far from over, the veteran caregiver community has come too far not see this through, veterans and caregivers know not to trust VA…
Veteran Warriors, Inc.
“One Family, One Fight!”
February 1, 2021
VA DECIDES TO ISSUE 1099’s TO CAREGIVERS CLAIMING THE IRS WILL NOT TREAT IT AS “INCOME” – NOT SO FAST THOUGH, THE IRS LAWS WILL SEE IT AS INCOME, UNTIL IT IS “PROVEN”TO BE NON-TAXABLE.
As tens of thousands of disabled veterans and their caregivers are trying to acclimate to a set of “New Rules” VA implemented on October 1, 2020, under the claim that the MISSION Act 2017 required them, (it did not, and you can read it for yourself here: https://www.congress.gov/.../115th.../senate-bill/2372/text),
VA has quietly changed course on its obdurate position that the Caregiver Stipend, formally referred to by VA “…as a recognition of the (Caregiver’s) service to the veteran”. (You know, just like the gratuity / tip you leave your server for a good service at your favorite restaurant!). https://www.caregiver.va.gov/....
While this money is still NOT TAXABLE according to the Internal Revenue, (VA admits that), they have decided to begin issuing a NEC 1099 (formerly the 1099 MISC). The same document the IRS requires that taxpayers use to report miscellaneous income. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1099nec.pdf...Not that this will be confusing to anyone, (please excuse our sarcasm!).
According to the IRS, over 4.2 million people used the free, electronic-filing services available to file their tax returns last year. The automated ones, (such as HR Block Taxcut, Turbo Tax and others) are fairly simply and most people use these to file their tax returns themselves, without consulting an accountant.
Many disabled veterans receive VA disability compensation and Social Security disability. In many cases, both are non-taxable. In others, the Social Security may not be, such as if the spouse works. The issue arises from this latest VA development, that if the taxpayers are not fluent in tax laws, rules and processes, they risk incorrectly reporting on their return, the VA Caregiver Stipend as (taxable) “income” – which can begin an avalanche of repercussions such as increased tax liability, disqualification for some income based programs, and lengthy delays for the taxpayers to receive any actual refund they may be due by the time the corrections are made to their tax return.
While the VA issuing the NEC-1099 to Caregivers is not invalid or incorrect, their complete lack of information dissemination to those who will receive them is contemptable. Once again, VA makes abrupt, significant changes without offering a modicum of information to their sole customer – the Veteran’s and their families.
This matter can have an impact on any tax refund you may be entitled to or liability you may be responsible for. Because of the potential impact this development can have, we suggest that all affected should seek out counsel from a certified tax professional before filing their taxes.
Lauren Price, USN, (Ret.)
Founder / Managing Director
Veteran Warriors, Inc
4642 Ontario Drive
New Port Richey, FL 34652
CALL TO ACTION
Re: Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers New Rules and Regulations, July 31, 2020
VA has published the new rules that were created without legislative approval from Congress, you can find more information on our attached summary. These rules are set to take effect Oct 1, 2020.
There is NO indication that expansion will occur on Oct. 1, 2020, in fact VA clearly states in the Rules that expansion will not take place until the IT system has been certified to Congress.
The changes to eligibility are significant and can be found in the summary.
At this point, without any Congressional changes to these rules due to their significant restrictions rather than expansions, many should begin preparing as you currently have 14 months to prepare financially and create a plan for your veteran.
For assistance or questions, feel free to contact us at VeteranWarriors@veteran-warriors.org
December 11, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
RE: The VA “Comprehensive Family Caregiver Program" The “MISSION ACT” Experiences a “Failure To Launch”!
Veteran Warriors has confirmed that yet another “IT” project is holding up services for potentially over 1 Million veterans of the Vietnam era!
One of the key pieces of the recently enacted “The VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act” (MISSION ACT); is the long-awaited expansion of the VA’s “Comprehensive Family Caregiver Program” eligibility.
The new law required that the VA “…must develop and implement a new information technology system to support administrative and record-keeping needs. CSP will soon submit a report to Congress with a timeline for implementation (Jr., 2018).”
What the Secretary did not mention is that the law mandates that this new IT program be implemented, functioning and certified to Congress; NO LATER THAN OCTOBER 1, 2018!
Bear in mind; the law also states that the VA will not have to open the program to the pre-1975 (Vietnam era) veterans UNTIL TWO YEARS AFTER THAT CERIFICATION IS MADE. The clock has not even started yet on the two-year waiting period.
The mandate to implement this “new technology” is a misnomer. The VA already has the “Caregiver Application Tracking System”. This is the program that the VA personnel use to manage the caregiver cases. The problem is; this program does not copy over to the veteran’s medical records; and there have been cases where we have found the personnel utilizing this system to communicate their personal opinions and even remarks about how they plan to create reasons to remove veterans from the program. So, the clause in the law to create yet another program to do this seemed like a stall tactic.
Congress created a law to (finally) include all eras of veterans (over a staggered time table), into the program. The VA has fought this since the Post 9/11 portion of the program was still a Bill.
Now, they have found a way to indefinitely forestall the inevitable; effectively keeping eligible veterans still waiting on the VA for earned benefits and services, while the VA Office of IT scrambles around trying to build this program, while fixing the GI Bill program and the VBMS (claims management system).
We caution our Brothers and Sisters; please don’t hold your breath!
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