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Veteran Advisor - Housing Grants

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News August 2017

If you’re interested in making your home more accessible, you’ll want to take a look at several housing adaption programs offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

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Housing Grants

If you’re interested in making your home more accessible, you’ll want to take a look at several housing adaption programs offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The programs include the Specially Adapted Housing grant (SAH), the Special Home Adaptation grant (SHA) and the Home Improvement and Structural Alterations grant (HISA).

Specially Adapted Housing Grant

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This grant is for construction of an adapted home or modification of an existing home. The SAH grant helps veterans with certain service-connected disabilities live independently in a barrier-free environment. This generally means creating a home that’s wheelchair accessible. The SAH grant is available to veterans who have a service-connected disability due to military service, entitling them to compensation for permanent and total disability due to: 

  • The loss or loss of use of both lower extremities, such as to preclude locomotion without the aid of braces, crutches, a cane or a wheelchair
  • Blindness in both eyes, having only light perception, plus the loss of use of one lower extremity
  • The loss of use of one lower extremity together with residuals of an organic disease or injury
  • Loss or loss of use of both upper extremities at or above the elbow
  • The loss of or loss of use of one leg together with the loss of or loss of use of one arm
  • Certain severe burns
  • Diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • The loss or loss of use of one or more lower extremities because of service on or after Sept. 11, 2001, which so affects the functions of balance or propulsion as to preclude ambulating without the aid of braces, crutches, a cane or a wheelchair

Currently, the grant amount is $77,307 and can only be used up to three times until the full grant amount is exhausted. It can also be applied toward the unpaid principal mortgage balance of an adapted home already acquired without the assistance of a VA grant. The application is done through the VA Loan Guarantee Department and is applied for on VA Form 26-4555. This grant can be used to construct an adapted home or an addition to the home, install ramps, widen doorways, install outdoor walkways and modify bathrooms and kitchens to make them more accessible.  

Special Home Adaptation Grant

The SHA grant is similar to the SAH grant in that it’s a monetary amount to be used to modify one’s home to accommodate a disability. This grant is available to service-connected veterans who have a service-connected disability due to military service, entitling them to compensation for permanent and total disability because of: 

  • Blindness in both eyes with 5/200 visual acuity or less
  • The anatomical loss or loss of use of both hands or extremities below the elbow
  • Certain severe burn injuries
  • Certain severe respiratory injuries

Under the SHA grant, eligible veterans can receive assistance up to $15,462 for modification assistance with mobility throughout their homes. This grant is also applied for with VA Form 26-4555. If you don’t own your own home, and happen to live with a family member, there’s a temporary grant available. The Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) grant may be available to SAH/SHA-eligible veterans and service members who are, or will be, temporarily residing in a home owned by a family member. The maximum amount available to adapt a family member’s home for the SAH grant is $33,937 and $6,059 for the SHA grant. If you utilize the TRA grant and eventually purchase a home of your own, the amount you used from the TRA grant will be applied against the full SAH/SHA grant.

Home Improvement & Structural Alterations Grant

Although the first two grants apply to service-connected veterans, the HISA grant can be used by non-service-connected veterans. The HISA grant is available to all veterans with disabilities to make any home improvement necessary for the continuation of treatment, or for accessibility to their home and sanitary facilities. A veteran doesn’t need to be in receipt of compensation or pension from the VA to be eligible for the lesser grant amount but must be enrolled in the VA Health Care System. Eligible veterans can receive the HISA grant in addition to a SAH or SHA grant.

Currently, the amounts are $6,800 for service-connected veterans and $2,000 for non-service-connected veterans. When these rates increase, veterans will be allowed to utilize the difference only if they have an unused balance. It’s important to note that veterans may receive the higher grant amount for a non-service-connected condition if they’re rated at 50% or more service connection. The HISA grant will pay for things such as alterations allowing entrance or exit from the residence, access to sanitary facilities or bedrooms, installation of roll-in showers and wheelchair ramps. To initiate the application for the HISA grant, you must have a consult placed by your physician with a diagnosis justifying the medical need for the adaptations. You’ll then need to submit VA Form 10–0103, along with permission from the property owner to modify the property and a detailed quote(s) from a licensed contractor. 

For more information, visit pva.org, or find your nearest Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) National Service Officer.

A Marine Corps veteran, Aaron Stevens is a PVA veterans health and benefits specialist at the Cleveland VA Medical Center in Cleveland.

 

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Veteran Advisor - Housing Grants

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