Though my firm handles VA Disability Compensation benefits, I also try to lead my clients in the right direction for other resources for which they may be eligible. Veterans who use orthopedic or assistive devices, such as prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, and home medical equipment, have a number of resources they can tap to get the most out of their VA benefits.
1. Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service (PSAS) – PSAS is a service provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with a mission to “provide comprehensive support to optimize health and independence of the Veteran… [and]… to be the premier source of prosthetic and orthotic services, sensory aids, medical equipment, and support services for Veterans.”
PSAS provides equipment such as artificial limbs; hearing aids; eyeglasses; home dialysis supplies; orthopedic braces, supports, and footwear; ocular prostheses, wheelchairs, and other daily-living aids.
2. The Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) Program – HISA offers a grant that provides medically necessary improvements and structural alterations to veterans/servicemembers’ primary residence for the following purposes:
- Allowing entrance to or exit from their homes
- Accessibility of lavatory and sanitary facilities (e.g. roll in showers)
- Accessibility to kitchen or bathroom sinks or counters (e.g. lowering counters/sinks)
- Construction of permanent ramping to facilitate access to the home
- Improving plumbing or electrical systems made necessary due to installation of home medical equipment
For veterans and servicemembers with a service connected condition, or a non-service connected condition rated 50% or more service connected, the lifetime HISA benefit is $6,800. For veterans with a non-service connected condition, the lifetime HISA benefit is $2,000.
3. Housing Grants– If you are a Service member or Veteran with a permanent and total service-connected disability, you may be entitled to a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant or a Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant through the VA. Both grants assist veterans and service members build or adapt their homes to make their homes accessible. There are different eligibility requirements and benefit limitations to each program, however. Clicking on the link in this paragraph will provide more information about eligibility requirements.
4. Mobility Assistance
Driver Rehabilitation – The VA has established more than 40 driver rehabilitation centers nationwide. Eligible veterans or active duty personnel are provided a panoply of services to evaluate, train, and prepare them to return to independent driving.
Automobile Grants – Servicemembers and Veterans may be eligible for a one-time payment of not more than $20,577.18, beginning 10-01-17, toward the purchase of an automobile or other conveyance if you have certain service-connected disabilities. The grant is paid directly to the seller of the automobile and the Servicemember or Veteran may only receive the automobile grant once in his/her lifetime.
To be eligible, the servicemember or veteran must have:
- Loss, or permanent loss of use, of one or both feet, OR
- Loss, or permanent loss of use, of one or both hands, OR
- Permanent impairment of vision in both eyes to a certain degree, OR
- Severe burn injury, OR
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Assistance with Adaptive Equipment – VA may provide financial assistance in purchasing adaptive equipment more than once. This benefit is payable to either the seller or the Veteran or Servicemember. Adaptive equipment includes, but is not limited to, power steering, power brakes, power windows, power seats, and special equipment necessary to assist the eligible person into and out of the vehicle.
To be eligible, the servicemember or veteran must:
- meet the disability requirements for the automobile grant (see above), OR
- have ankylosis (immobility of the joint) of one or both knees or hips that VA recognizes as being service-connected or treats as if service-connected under 38 U.S.C. 1151.
5. Clothing Allowance – VA provides an annual monetary clothing allowance disbursement to any veteran who is entitled to receive compensation for a service-connected disability for which he or she uses a prosthetic or orthopedic appliance that tends to wear or tear his or her clothing. The allowance is also available to any veteran whose service connected skin condition requires prescribed medication that damages his or her outer garments. This benefit could be approved annually or as a lifetime benefit depending on the disability and appliance causing damage to the clothing. The clothing allowance for this past year was $588.