Honoring the commitments of our veterans, a number of government grants have been made available. Vets in need of modification to their homes or living accommodations may qualify for some of this funding under specific grant programs.
These grants are typically awarded only once within the lifetime of the veteran. They may be distributed as needed over time, however, as opposed to in a single lump-sum.
The Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) program is geared toward all veterans, both service-connected and non-service-connected, who require modifications to their homes that facilitate the delivery of ongoing necessary treatments. This would include disability access improvements, particularly to lavatory and sanitation-based facilities. The amount of a grant is contingent on the specific needs. Service-connected veterans also qualify for higher amounts.
The term “service-connected” means that the injury or disability suffered by the veteran was incurred or aggravated while in service. “Non-service connected,” on the other hand, means that such injuries or illnesses are not related to military service.
HISA grant funding is contingent on a medical determination stating that the proposed modifications to the structure are appropriately designated, or necessary for the continued effective, economically sound treatment of the disability suffered by the veteran.
SHA / SAH
In addition to a HISA grant, some veterans may also qualify for either a Special Home Adaption (SHA) or Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant. These grants may be awarded on top of HISA grants and offer considerably higher levels of funding.
However, they are reserved for highly disabled veterans whose disability or disabilities are service-connected and who need specialized living arrangements due to their disabilities.
The primary prerequisite of qualification for the aforementioned grants is a request from a VA doctor. This physician must indicate some basic information within the request. This begins with the veteran’s basic personal information – name, SSN, address, and phone number. Beyond that, the request must indicate specifically the required alterations to the home, as well as a diagnosis and medical justification for the proposed modifications.
HISA Qualifying Projects
The following is a basic list of projects that would typically be approved for HISA grants. Note that this is not a comprehensive list. Other projects not listed here may also qualify.
- Permitting, inspection, and other fees related to project compliance.
- Shower modifications, such as roll-in accessibility.
- Permanent access ramps which may be constructed of wither wood or concrete.
- Improvement of existing access pathways or driveways to facilitate access to the structure.
- Widening of doorways, interior or exterior, to allow for wheelchair access.
- Construction of concrete pads as necessary.
- Installation of wheelchair lift equipment whose cost is in excess of $500
- Modifications, upgrades or improvements to basic infrastructure such as plumbing and electrical systems that may be required to allow for installation of medical equipment such as dialysis machines.
HISA grants specifically exclude widening of existing driveways beyond 7’ x 6’ in dimension, as well as walkways to outbuildings. Spas, Jacuzzis, and hot-tubs are also non-qualifying projects, as is exterior decking beyond 8’ x 8’ in size.
HISA Funding Levels
Home improvement grants may be awarded to veterans with non-service-connected disabilities in amounts up to $2,000. Other certain veterans who are registered in the VA healthcare system, as well as some who, in certain circumstances, may be receiving private care, may be eligible. Included here are vets who are already receiving Medicaid or Improved Pension, or who meet the means testing criteria, as established by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), for the current year.
Service-connected veterans may qualify for home improvement grants in amounts up to $6,800. A condition that is 100% service-connected is qualifying, as is a non-service-connected condition that is rated 50% or more service-connected.
It’s important to understand that receipt of improved pension is interpreted by the VHA as being associated with a rating for “aid and attendance” or housebound.” Even though the veteran may meet the legal requirements for receiving Pension, the VHA still requires a medical diagnosis to approve a structural modification or improvement.
Knowing what benefits are available to our valued servicemen and servicewomen who have made bodily sacrifices in the name of protecting our nation will help us ensure that they enjoy the highest possible standard of living on an ongoing basis.
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