Being comfortable at home is such a basic need that it's easy to take for granted. A desirable living space requires an attractive layout, adequate floor space, the right number of bedrooms and more. But if you're a veteran with disabilities, you may need modifications to have access to all the comforts of home. Depending on your service-connected disability, you may be eligible for assistance under one or more of the following programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Specially Adapted Housing Program
Veterans or service members who have specific service-connected disabilities may be entitled to a grant under the Specially Adapted Housing Program for the purpose of constructing an adapted home or modifying an existing home to meet their disability-related adaptive needs.
After your eligibility is determined, a VA SAH agent will help you with processing your application. You may get advice on suitable house plans and a buildable lot, adaptive features, location of a qualified architect and builder, as well as assistance submitting the documents necessary for final grant approval. There are two types of grants administered by the VA under the SAH Program.
Specially Adapted Housing Grants are available to severely disabled veterans or service members who are entitled to a home especially adapted for their needs due to loss of mobility. Under this entitlement, a temporary grant may be available to veterans and service members to adapt a family member's home to meet their special needs. SAH grants:
- Provide up to 50 percent of the cost to the veteran of the adapted house, land and allowable expenses, but may not exceed the current maximum grant amount of $64,960 (through 2013)
- May be used to help build, buy or adapt an existing home or reduce indebtedness on a home that is already adapted
- May be used up to three times, as long as the total grants stay within the current limit. If future changes to the governing law provide for an increase in the maximum grant amount, veterans or service members who have not used the assistance available to them up to the allowable three times may be entitled to the increase in the maximum grant amount at that time. There is no time limit on use of the grant.
The TRA grant, used as a portion of the SAH grant, is currently limited to veterans up to a maximum amount of $14,000 and would count as a one-time use. The TRA grant reduces the amount of the available SAH grant.
The SAH grant is available to veterans determined eligible to receive compensation for permanent and total service-connected disability due to one of the following:
- The loss, or loss of use, of both lower extremities such as to preclude locomotion without the aid of braces, crutches, canes or a wheelchair
- Blindness in both eyes having only light perception, plus loss or loss of use of one lower extremity
- The loss, or loss of use, of one lower extremity together with residuals of organic disease or injury, or the loss or loss of use of one upper extremity. These losses must so affect the functions of balance or propulsion as to preclude locomotion without the aid of braces, crutches, canes or a wheelchair
- The loss, or loss of use, of both upper extremities, so as to preclude use of the arms at or above the elbows
- The permanent and total disability is due to a severe burn injury
Special Housing Adaptations Grants are available to veterans or service members entitled to home adaptations due to blindness in both eyes with 5/200 visual acuity or less, or the anatomical loss or loss of use of both hands. An eligible veteran or service member may receive a VA grant for the actual cost to adapt a house or for the appraised market value of necessary adapted features already in a house when it was purchased, up to the maximum grant amount. Under this entitlement, a temporary grant may be available to veterans who are or will be temporarily residing in a home owned by a family member. SHA grants:
- Provide the actual cost to the veteran for installation of certain adaptations and equipment
- Provide reimbursement for in-place adaptations
- May not exceed the current maximum grant of $12,992 (through 2013)
- May be used up to three times, as long as the total grants do not exceed the current limit. If future changes to the governing law provide for an increase in the maximum grant amount, veterans or service members who have not used the assistance available to them up to the allowable three times may be entitled to the increase in the maximum grant amount at that time. There is no time limit on use of the grant.
- Require that the home to be adapted may be owned by the veteran or by a member of the veteran's family, however, the veteran must intend to continue residing there
- May also be used to help veterans acquire a residence already adapted with special features for the veteran's disability
The TRA grant, used as a portion of the SHA grant, is currently limited to veterans up to a maximum amount of $2,000 and would count as a one-time use. The TRA grant reduces the amount of the SHA grant.
The SHA grant is available to veterans who are entitled to compensation for permanent and total service-connected disability due to one of the following:
- Blindness in both eyes with 5/200 visual acuity, or less
- Anatomical loss or loss of use of both hands
- The permanent and total disability due to a severe burn injury
Contact your nearest VA Regional Office to make an initial application for SAH assistance. If you need more information, go to the VA Home Loans SAH website or call 800-827-1000.
VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Independent Living Program
The Independent Living Program is for veterans who cannot currently pursue vocational goals due to the severity of their disabilities. Housing-related benefits that can be provided through the ILP include adaptations that are required to improve independence in daily living. To be eligible for this program, a veteran must have a service-connected disability so severe as to be currently unable to pursue an employment goal.
Assistance for housing needs will vary depending on the extent of the approved ILP and construction-related costs. Remember, if an approved ILP is in place, SAH grant funds may be used in conjunction with the project, if appropriate. Visit the VA's Independent Living Program page for more information.
Veterans Health Administration Home Improvement and Structural Alterations grants
This benefit, administered under the Prosthetics and Sensory Aids Service, is limited to the improvement and structural alterations necessary to assure the continuation of treatment and provide access to the home or to essential lavatory and sanitary facilities.
While most VA accessibility grants are for veterans and service members with service-connected disabilities, the HISA grant program applies to veterans with or without the service-connected rating. Veterans with a service-connected disability rated at 50 percent or more may be eligible for a $6,800 lifetime benefit. Veterans who are non-SC but receive health care from the VA with non-SC disabilities rated less than 50 percent may be eligible for a $2,000 lifetime benefit. For information, contact the prosthetics office at your nearest VA Medical Center or visit the VA's Home Improvements and Structural Alterations page.
Financial assistance and technical advice is also available from many other government and nongovernment organizations. Be sure to research your eligibility for assistance from all sources to maximize the use of your benefits.