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Veterans & MS

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News October 2013

Information is provided for veterans regarding multiple sclerosis benefits.

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I want to share with you information regarding what veterans need to know about multiple sclerosis (MS) and what type of benefits and help they should expect.

MS is a disease that can affect the nervous system such as the brain, spinal cord, optic pathways and other areas. It’s known to have a recurrence, such as neurologic symptoms which appear rapidly over a few days and improve over time. Some people experience a variety of symptoms that may worsen over time.

Seven-Year Period

If you’ve developed symptoms of MS, you may be eligible for benefits. This may include medical care, medication, equipment and more. 

When Congress established a seven-year presumptive period for MS, in what is now 38 U.S.C. § 1112(a)(3), the Senate Committee on Finance explained that the presumptive period was “based on information obtained from the National Institutes of Health that it was the opinion of its scientific staff that seven years was not an unreasonable period to recognize as the interval between onset and diagnosis in multiple sclerosis.”

Eligible veterans with MS can receive Disease Modifying Therapies (DMTs) routinely, no matter if they’re service-connected or not. Prescription co-pays on average are $8 per 30-day supply. Veterans unable to pay prescription co-pays can submit a financial status report (VA Form 20-4655) for waiver of payment.  

Other Benefits

Under the Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) program, veterans can receive assistance for home improvements that prove necessary for continuation of treatment.

The HISA helps with improving access to veteran’s homes, bathrooms and other areas. Some of the improvements offered by HISA include:

- Roll-in showers

- Wheelchair ramps

- Widening of doorways

Veterans with MS also can qualify for the Special Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant. The SAH Grant is available to veterans with service-connected conditions such as the following:

- Loss or loss of use of both lower extremities.

- Blindness in both eyes, possessing only light perception/loss or loss of use of one lower extremity.

- Loss or loss of use of one lower extremity together with residuals of organic disease or injury.

- Loss or loss of use of one upper-extremity, which affects functions of balance or propulsion regarding locomotion without the aid of braces, crutches, canes or a wheelchair.

- Loss or loss of use of both upper-extremities, such as to preclude use of the arms at or above the elbow.

Veterans can’t use the grant benefit more than three times up to the maximum dollar amount allowable.

Automobile Grant

A veteran may be eligible for a one-time payment of no more than $19,505 toward a purchase of an automobile or other conveyance, if he or she has certain service-connected disabilities.

The grant is paid directly to the automobile sellers. Veterans can use the automobile grant once in his or her lifetime.

Veterans must have one of the following disabilities that is either rated as service-connected or treated as if service-connected under 38 U.S.C. 1151:

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

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

- Permanent impairment of vision in both eyes to a certain degree

Adaptive Equipment Grant

To be eligible for the Adaptive Equipment Grant veterans must meet disability requirements for the automobile grant.

They must also have Ankylosis (immobility of the joint) of one or both knees or hips that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes as service-connected or treats as if service-connected under 38 U.S.C. 1151.

Special Compensation

Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) is a rate paid in addition to regular VA disability compensation SMC (K) or in place of 0-100% combined degree compensation.

For more information, visit benefits.va.gov/benefits or contact your local National Service Officer.

 

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