Military Caregiver Leave
An eligible employee is entitled to 26 workweeks of leave to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness during a “single 12-month period.”
Military caregiver leave may be taken to care for a "covered servicemember" with a serious injury or illness. A covered servicemember may be either a current servicemember OR a veteran of the Armed Forces.
Who is a covered servicemember?
- A current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness; or
- A veteran discharged under conditions other than dishonorable within the five-year period before you first take military caregiver leave to care for that veteran who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness.
For any veteran who was discharged prior to March 8, 2013, the period of time between October 28, 2009 and March 8, 2013 will not count as part of the five-year period. For example, if your family member became a veteran on October 28, 2009 then you may begin to use your military caregiver leave entitlement at any time up until March 8, 2018. As long as your military caregiver leave begins within five years of the veteran’s discharge, the 12-month period may extend beyond the five-year period.
What is a serious injury or illness?
- For a current servicemember, a serious injury or illness is one that was incurred by a servicemember in the line of duty on active duty that may render the servicemember medically unfit to perform the duties of his or her office, grade, rank, or rating. A serious injury or illness also includes injuries or illnesses that existed before the servicemember’s active duty and that were aggravated by service in the line of duty on active duty.
- For a Veteran, a serious injury or illness is one that was incurred by the veteran in the line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces or that existed before the veteran’s active duty and was aggravated by service in the line of duty on active duty, and that is either:
- a continuation of a serious injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated when the veteran was a member of the Armed Forces and rendered the servicemember unable to perform the duties of the servicemember’s office, grade, rank, or rating; or
- a physical or mental condition for which the veteran has received a Department of Veterans Affairs Service-Related Disability Rating (VASRD) of 50 percent or greater. (The rating may be based on multiple conditions)
- a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs the veteran’s ability to work because of a disability or disabilities related to military service, or would do so absent treatment; or
- an injury that is the basis for the veteran’s enrollment in the Department of Veterans Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.
In order to care for a covered servicemember, an eligible employee must be the spouse, son, daughter, or parent, or next of kin of a covered servicemember;
- “son or daughter” means the biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child for whom the covered servicemember stood in loco parentis, and who is of any age.
- “parent” means a biological, adoptive, step or foster father or mother, or any other individual who stood in loco parentis to the covered servicemember. This term does not include parents “in law.”
- “next of kin” is the nearest blood relative, other than the servicemember's spouse, parent, son, or daughter, in the following order of priority: blood relatives who have been granted legal custody of the servicemember by court decree or statutory provisions, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and first cousins, unless the covered servicemember has specifically designated in writing another blood relative as his or her nearest blood relative for purposes of military caregiver leave under the FMLA. When no such designation is made, and there are multiple family members with the same level of relationship to the servicemember, all such family members shall be considered next of kin and may take FMLA leave to provide care to the servicemember, either consecutively or simultaneously.