As a disabled veteran, remodeling for better accessibility can keep you in a home you love; but, the process can be beyond budgetary resources for many disabled service members and their families. If you desperately need a chair lift or wheelchair lift, what can you do?
Fortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has grants available to assist with renovation or to even buy a new home to accommodate disability. These grants supplement other funding options available to the general public, and the money can be used to make major modifications to improve independence or just add small aids such as grab bars, wider doorways, or a handicap ramp.
If you’re a disabled Service member or Veteran, find out if you can get a grant to help meet your housing needs.
Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant
The SAH provides up to $67,555 to veterans injured in service so they can create a home that is fully accessible. The money is available to veterans who were disabled permanently and totally as a result of activities during wartime service (100% service-related disability). The majority of veterans who qualify are confined to a wheelchair and require modifications to existing house plans for wheelchair access.
This grant may be used for new home construction or for substantial housing modifications that help eligible veterans function independently in their own homes.
You may be able eligible if you’re using the grant money to buy, build, or change your permanent home (a home you plan to live in for a long time), and you meet both of the requirements listed below.
Both of these must be true: You own or will own the home and you have one of these service-connected disabilities (disabilities related to your service):
- The loss or loss of use of both legs, both arms, or an arm and a leg;
- The loss or loss of use of a lower leg along with the residuals (lasting effects) of an organic (natural) disease or injury;
- Blindness in both eyes having only light perception along with the loss or loss of use of one leg;
- Certain severe burns; and/or
- The loss or loss of use of one or both lower extremities (feet or legs) after September 11, 2001, that makes it so you can’t balance or walk without the help of braces, crutches, canes, or a wheelchair.
Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grant
This grant can be used for any home improvement that will help those with service-connected disabilities (100% service-related disability) increase mobility throughout their existing homes. Maximum grants are currently $13,511 and are available to veterans with permanent and total disability (blindness or loss of limbs) as a result of military service. The majority of those who qualify are confined to a wheelchair and require modifications to existing house plans for wheelchair access.
You may be eligible for the SHA grant if you’re using the grant money to buy, build, or change your permanent home (a home you plan to live in for a long time) and you meet both of the requirements listed below.
Both of these must be true: You or a family member own or will own the home and you have one of these service-connected disabilities (disabilities related to your service):
- Blindness in both eyes (with 20/200 visual acuity or less);
- The loss or loss of use of both hands;
- Certain severe burns; and/or
- Certain respiratory or breathing injuries.
For FY 2018, you may be able to get up to three grants—for a total of up to $16,217—through the SHA grant program.
Home Improvements and Structural Assistance (HISA) Grant
The HISA program offers home improvement and modification grants of $2,000 to $6,800 for veterans with service-related and non-service-related disabilities, respectively. This program is open to a wider range of veterans and includes those who are disabled as a result of non-service-related conditions. The money may be used for any home improvement necessary for the continuation of treatment or for the veteran’s disability access to the home and to essential sanitary facilities.
To receive this grant, the Veteran must have a prescription from a VA facility or from a physician providing covered care to VA patients outside VA facilities. Some of the provisions that HISA will pay for include:
- Lowering electrical outlets and switches;
- Allowing entrance and exit from the Veteran’s home;
- Improving access to sanitary facilities;
- Improving walkways and driveways; and
- Improving access to kitchen and bathroom counters.
The HISA grant is available to veterans who have received a medical determination indicating that improvements and structural alterations are necessary or appropriate for the effective and economical treatment of a disability. The HISA program does not cover major modifications that are generally covered by the SAH grant program. For instance, handrails installed in showers are covered under HISA, while widening a bathroom doorway is not.
A veteran may receive both a HISA grant and either a SHA grant or a SAH grant.
Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) Grant
If you need money to make changes to a family member’s you’re living in for a short period of time, you may be able to get a TRA grant if you meet both of the requirements listed below.
Both of these must be true: You qualify for an SAH or SHA grant and you’re living temporarily in a family member’s home that needs changes to meet your needs.
How to Get Help
You can apply in one of four ways:
- Apply online: Apply through eBenefits.
- Apply by mail: Fill out an Application in Acquiring Specially Adapted Housing or Special Home Adaptation Grant (VA Form 26-4555).
- Mail it to your nearest regional loan center.
- Apply in person: Fill out VA Form 26-4555 and bring it to your nearest VA regional office.
If you have any other questions, please call (800) 827-1000.
The knowledgeable staff at Liftavator is also on hand to answer any questions you have as you look at mobility improvements. If you’d like, a member of our team is available to visit your home to determine which of the solutions we offer can meet your specific needs.
When a final decision is made, we’ll book a day for installation and you’ll be able to use your new installations the same day!
For more information on residential and commercial elevators, stairlifts, vertilifts, ramps, and more, visit www.liftavator.com or call (252) 634-1717 today.
(Sources: Department of Veterans Affairs; Military.com; USA.gov; and Julian Gray Associates.)