GENERAL INFORMATION

What is this lawsuit about?

The Beaudette lawsuit was filed claiming that veterans and caregivers who applied for benefits under the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (“PCAFC” or “Caregiver Program”) must be allowed to appeal any PCAFC denial of benefits to the Board of Veterans’ Affairs (“BVA” or “Board”). In April 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims agreed with the petitioners, Jeremy and Maya Beaudette, and ruled that the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) must permit appeals to the Board.  You can read a summary of the Court’s decision below, or read the full decision here.

For claimants who appeal adverse Caregiver Program decisions, the Board could decide they are entitled to re-instatement to the program, increased benefits, and/or back pay of benefits previously denied.

 

Who is included in the Class?

The Class includes “all claimants who received an adverse benefits decision under the Caregiver Program, exhausted the administrative review process within the VHA, and have not been afforded the right to appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.”

After the court’s decision, VA agreed to let all claimants who received a benefits decision under the Caregiver Program to appeal to the Board, whether or not they exhausted the administrative review process within the VHA.  That means that if you ever received a benefits decision under the Caregiver Program, you can now appeal to the Board.

 

Summary of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims decision

On April 19, 2021, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claim issued a decision stating that the Veterans’ Judicial Review Act requires that VA permit claimants to appeal Caregiver Program decisions to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.  The court also prohibited VA from denying Board review of future benefits decision under the Caregiver Program.

The court also certified a class of claimants who previously received Caregiver Program benefits decisions but were not permitted to appeal to the Board, and appointed class counsel to represent the class.

Last, the court ordered that VA provide notice to members of the class of (1) their right to appeal Caregiver benefits decisions to the Board and (2) the procedure for obtaining Board review of the decision.

After the court’s decision, VA agreed to permit all claimants who received a benefits decision under the Caregiver Program to appeal to the Board, whether or not they exhausted the administrative review process within the VHA. VA therefore also agreed to provide the court-ordered notice to all claimants who previously received Caregiver benefits decisions.

 

Do I have to do anything to be included in the Class?

No. The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims certified the class in its April 2021 decision.  If you are a member of the class, you do not have to do anything to be represented by Class Counsel. 

Even if you are not a member of the class, if you have applied for Caregiver Program benefits and receive a decision with which you disagree, you are still entitled to appeal the decision to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

 

I applied for Caregiver Program benefits, but I have not received a notice from the VA about my right to appeal. What should I do?

If you received a decision dated on or after September 28, 2021, you should have received information about your right to appeal with your decision.   You will not receive a separate notice about your right to appeal.

If you received a Caregiver Program benefits decision any time before September 28, 2021, VA will send you a notice about your appeal rights.  VA is sending these notices over a period of several months, and it expects to finish the process around June 2022.  There is no cause for concern if you have not received a notice prior to that time. If you need to change your address with the VA, you can do so online with a VA.gov account or by mail.  For more information, visit https://www.va.gov/change-address/.

However, you do not have to wait to receive the VA notice to exercise your right to appeal to the Board.  You can appeal to the Board, or seek more information about your PCAFC decision, at any time prior to or after receiving the notice.

 

APPEALING TO THE BOARD OF VETERANS’ APPEALS (“BOARD” OR “BVA”)

Who can appeal to the Board of Veterans' Appeals?

All claimants who received a benefits decision under the Caregiver Program may appeal to the Board.

For example, the Board may consider an appeal based on issues such as:

• whether the Primary Family Caregiver is entitled to a higher stipend tier level;
• whether the Primary Family Caregiver is eligible for a stipend;
• whether the Veteran is eligible to participate in the Caregiver Program;
• whether VHA was wrong to have discharged the Primary Family Caregiver or the Veteran from the Caregiver Program; or
• whether it is in the best interests of the Veteran to participate in the Caregiver Program.

These are only examples of issues that Class Counsel expects the Board to be able to review.  You are not limited to make an appeal based on only these categories. However, the Board cannot review medical determinations that are part of a Caregiver Program decision.

 

How do I appeal to the Board?

To appeal a VA decision under PCAFC, you need to know the specific issue or issues that you would like to appeal. You also need to know the date of the decision. You can appeal more than one decision, but you need to identify each decision you are appealing by including, among other things, the date of the decision.

How to appeal depends on when VA made its decision:

For a PCAFC decision dated on or after February 19, 2019: You can appeal to the Board by filling out VA Form 10182 – Decision Review Request: Board Appeal (Notice of Disagreement) and sending it directly to the Board. The information and detailed instructions on that form explain what information you need and where to send the form. You can access it at https://www.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA10182.pdf.

For a PCAFC decision dated before February 19, 2019: You can appeal to the Board by filling out VA Form 10-307 – Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) Notice of Disagreement (NOD). The information and detailed instructions on that form explain what information you need and where to send the form. You can access it at https://www.vacaregiverclassaction.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/VA_Form_10-307.pdf. After you submit the form, but before the Board considers your appeal, VA will send you a Statement of the Case summarizing the reasons for the PCAFC decision you are appealing. The Statement of the Case will provide further information for how to continue your appeal to the Board.

 

When do I need to file my appeal to the Board?

If you receive a notice of your right to appeal to the Board with a copy of a Caregiver Program benefits decision, you have one year from the date of that notice to file an appeal to the Board. 

If you did not receive a notice of your right to appeal together with a copy of your Caregiver Program benefits decision, the one-year deadline to appeal does not apply.  Nevertheless, if you want to appeal, Class Counsel recommends that you file your appeal as soon as you have enough information to fill out the correct form or forms.

 

I want to appeal, but I do not have a copy of the VA's decision anymore. What should I do?

If you would like to appeal but do not have enough information to fill out the Notice of Disagreement form, you can ask VA for your PCAFC decisions. You can do this by filling out a request on Form 10-306 – Request for Information About Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) Decisions. The information and detailed instructions on that form explain what information you need and where to send the form.

If you request a copy of the PCAFC decision and VA cannot find it, VA will try to give you the information needed to file an appeal.  Submitting a Form 10-306 is not an appeal to the Board. If you want to appeal, you will still need to file the appeal using VA Form 10182 or VA Form 10-307, as explained above.  

Please keep a copy of any written request for information for your records.

If you already know enough about your decision – including the reason you want to appeal and whether the decision was made before or after February 19, 2019 – you can simply appeal to the Board.

 

I received more than one benefits decision under the Caregiver Program. Which decisions can I appeal?

You can appeal more than one decision, but you need to identify each decision you are appealing on the appropriate Notice of Disagreement form, as explained above under “How do I appeal to the Board?”

 

I received a Notice from VA, but I don't remember applying for benefits under the Caregiver Program. What should I do?

If you want more information about the decision that caused VA to send you the notice, you can ask for more information from VA using Form 10-306 – Request for Information About Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) Decisions.

 

I want help filing my appeal. Who should I contact?

You can receive help with your individual claim or appeal from a Veterans Service Organization representative, an attorney, or agent accredited by VA. For a list of VA-recognized organizations and VA-accredited individuals that are authorized to help with VA benefit claims, visit https://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp.

Class Counsel represents the class in the Beaudette lawsuit, but does not represent you in your individual PCAFC claim or appeal.

 

FURTHER INFORMATION

I sent a request for more information about my Caregiver Program decision using Form 10-306, but VA has not responded.

If VA does not respond to your Form 10-306 request for more information, or does not provide you with enough information about your Caregiver Program decision so that you can to fill out the Notice of Disagreement form, please contact Class Counsel at 1-888-487-5511.  

 

I want to apply or reapply for Caregiver Program benefits.

If you are not currently participating in PCAFC and would like to be, VA encourages you to reapply. On October 1, 2020, regulatory changes went into effect that could impact your eligibility. Individuals who wish to be considered for designation by VA as Primary or Secondary Family Caregivers must submit a joint application, along with the Veteran or Service member. You are allowed to reapply for PCAFC benefits and also appeal your past PCAFC decisions to the Board at the same time.

For more information on how to apply or reapply for PCAFC, visit https://www.caregiver.va.gov/.  Individuals may also call the Caregiver Support Line at 855-260-3274 for more information or assistance with the application.

 

I want to talk to Class Counsel for the Beaudette case.

If you have further questions or concerns about your appeal rights, please call 1-888-487-5511.

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This website is created and maintained by Class Counsel in Beaudette v. McDonough, CAVC No. 20-4961.  It is not a website of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and this website does not represent any endorsement by VA of the general policies, products, or activities of Class Counsel.  This website provides general information about the court’s decision in Beaudette and what it means for class members. Class Counsel represent the class in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claim in the Beaudette case, but do not represent class members in their individual applications or appeals for Caregiver Program benefits.