The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) rejected a case filed by a Navy SEAL and veterans advocates about 2020 regulations from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that led to families being notified they were being removed from the agency's caregiver program, Military.com reported.
In turning down the case, Veteran Warriors, Inc., et. al. v. McDonough, the verdict from the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals favoring the VA remains the final say.
The VA’s decision to change eligibility rules for its Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers resulted in hundreds of families being notified that they would no longer be able to participate in the program, which gave financial support to family members giving assistance to veterans.
The VA has since paused the eligibility reviews and extended benefits to all participants until 2025 after it was estimated that 90% of participants would become ineligible under the new rules.
The lawsuit – from Veterans Warriors Inc., former SEAL Andrew Sheets, and wife Kristie – argued that the 2020 rules conflicted with the law and prior intentions of the program. And legal precedence indicated that decisions should have favored the veteran, not the government, Veteran Warriors Inc. said.
The caregiver program was created to support post-9/11 combat-injured veterans, providing additional aid to a veteran who relied on the care of a family member – it was then expanded to veterans of previous conflicts. The new rules required that a veteran must have sustained a serious injury, need of in-person personal care, and was 100% unable to perform at least one or more activities of daily living. Additionally, caregiver duties have to be done in person.
"The Final Rule does not account for any assessment by the family caregiver of the needs and limitations of the veteran, nor does it consider the amount and degree of personal care services provided, or the amount of time required for the family caregiver to provide any necessary supervision, protection or instruction to the veteran," the plaintiffs argued.