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Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News September 2013

Eligibility for Auto Grant is explained.

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Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) service officers routinely receive phone calls from veterans who have questions or have been misinformed regarding the eligibility requirements for the Automobile and Adaptive Equipment Grants (Auto Grant).

Many think because they’re service connected as 100% disabling, they’re entitled to the Auto Grant.  This is not correct.

To be eligible for the Auto Grant, a veteran must be service connected for one of the following disabilities:

- The loss or permanent loss of use of one or both feet

- The loss or permanent loss of use of one or both hands


- The permanent impairment of vision of both eyes: with central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye, with corrective glasses, or central visual acuity of more than 20/200 if peripheral vision in the best eye is limited to 20 degrees or less

- Certain severe burn injuries

How Much?

When the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) gives entitlement to the Auto Grant, the veteran must complete Section I of VA Form 21-4502 and send it to his or her local PVA national service officer (NSO) to route to VA.

VA will certify the form by completing Section II of the 21-4502 and return it to the veteran or PVA NSO. It’s important to note that VA can’t pay an eligible veteran for the purchase of a vehicle until entitlement to the grant has been established.

VA provides eligible veterans a maximum of $19,505 or the total purchase price of the automobile, whichever is the lesser. An eligible veteran can apply the grant toward purchasing a new or used vehicle.

The law requires VA to pay the benefit directly to the vehicle’s seller. It may not reimburse a veteran who has already paid for a vehicle. If the veteran is unable to operate an automobile, VA will still provide or assist in purchasing an automobile if it’s to be operated for the eligible veteran by another person. The VA Auto Grant can only be used once.

VA can also give a grant to active duty personnel if they also have acquired one of the eligible disabilities while on active duty.

Adaptive Equipment

In addition to the $19,505 Auto Grant, VA Prosthetics will cover the cost of adaptive equipment for the automobile.

VA identifies adaptive equipment as (but not limited to) power steering, power brakes, power window, lifts, power seats, and any special equipment necessary to assist the eligible person into and out of the vehicle.

This includes modifying the inside size of the vehicle, if needed, for the person to enter or operate it. VA will pay for air-conditioning if it’s necessary for the health and safety of the veteran and supported by medical determination supporting the need.

For VA to pay for adaptive equipment, VA Form 10-1394 must be completed, along with supporting documents (window sticker and invoices).

How it Would Work

As an example of the process of how the Auto Grant and adaptive equipment benefit work together, let’s say you purchase a brand-new van that overall costs $50,505. The Auto Grant totals $19,505, so that would bring down the total to $31,000.

Once that is figured in, VA will cover the adaptive equipment and conversion package by paying the dealership directly.

Adaptive equipment and conversion can range anywhere between $19,000 to $21,000, so the out-of-pocket expense you would be responsible for is around $10,000-$12,000 depending on the amount of the total van conversion. 

If an eligible veteran can’t qualify to operate an automobile safely, VA will provide adaptive equipment for an automobile that is operated by another person for the suitable veteran. 

Eligible veterans can’t have adaptive equipment for more than two cars at any one time during a four-year period.

Non-Service Injuries

Veterans with nonservice-connected injuries are eligible for a one-time van modification. 

A veteran having nonservice-connected disabilities may be eligible for a van lift, but isn’t entitled to any operational equipment (automatic transmission, power brakes, power steering, hand controls, modifications of the drivers area, etc.). 

The veteran must also have a medical determination supporting the need for the adaptive equipment.  Even though it doesn’t amount to the same as an Auto Grant and adaptive equipment benefit, assistance with a one-time van conversion for a non-service-connected veteran can substantially bring down the overall price of a new or used vehicle. 

For more information, visit benefits.va.gov/benefits or contact your local NSO.

 

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