If you suffered a disability while you were serving, chances are you need to make some structural changes to your home. The good news is that the government has put some programs in place to help you. The VA has four main grant programs designed to assist disabled veterans with necessary home modifications:
- The Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant
- The Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grant
- The Temporary Residence Adaption (TRA) grant
- The Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) grant
Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant
The goal of the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant Program is to provide a barrier-free living environment that gives a disabled veteran a level of independent living that he may otherwise not enjoy. This grant is available if you have a service-connected disability for any of the following:
The loss or loss of use of both legs so that you require the aid of braces, crutches, canes, or a wheelchair.
Blindness in both eyes, having only light perception, plus the loss or loss of use of one leg.
The loss or loss of use of one leg together with (1) residuals of organic disease or injury, or (2) the loss or loss of use of one arm, which affects your balance or movement so that you require the aid of braces, crutches, canes, or a wheelchair.
A residual is an aftereffect of a prior condition. For example, if you had lung cancer that was cured by surgery or radiation, your lungs may still have scarring, which could affect your ability to breathe. Doctors would call this condition a residual of the lung cancer.
The loss or loss of use of both arms at or above the elbow.
The grant can be used to pay for the construction of an adapted home or modification of an existing home to meet your adaptive needs. The SAH grant is generally used to create a wheelchair-accessible home. This grant is currently limited to $60,000.
Applying for Adaptive Housing Grants
Apply for Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) and Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grants by completing VA Form 26-4555, Veterans Application in Acquiring Specially Adapted Housing or Special Home Adaptation Grant. The form is available at any VA regional office or online at www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-26-4555-ARE.pdf. Return the completed form to your closest VA regional office.
You can apply for the Home Improvement and Structural Alterations (HISA) grant by completing VA Form 10-0103, Veterans Application for Assistance in Acquiring Home Improvement and Structural Alterations. This form is available from your VA medical center. It’s also available from the VA’s Web site at www.prosthetics.va.gov/docs/vha-10-0103-fill.pdf. Return this completed form to the VA medical center where you receive your VA medical care.
Special Home Adaptation (SHA) Grant
If you are permanently and totally (100 percent) disabled with a service-connected disability for blindness (vision of no better than 5/200 when corrected with glasses), or you suffer from the anatomical loss or loss of use of both hands or arms below the elbow, you may be eligible to receive a Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grant of up to $12,000.
This grant is generally used to assist veterans with mobility throughout their homes.
Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) Grant
If you’re eligible for SAH or SHA, part of that money can be used to modify a family member’s home to fit your needs if you’re temporarily living with her. You can use up to $14,000 of the maximum SAH assistance or up to $2,000 of the maximum SHA assistance for this purpose.
Under current law, the Temporary Residence Adaption (TRA) Grant Program ends June 15, 2011. However, Congress could decide to extend this deadline in future legislation.
Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) Grant
The Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) grant is available to veterans with service-connected disabilities and those with non-service-connected disabilities. The purpose of the grant is to make any home improvement necessary for the continuation of treatment or for disability access to the home and bathroom facilities.
To be eligible, a VA doctor must indicate that improvements and structural alterations are necessary or appropriate for the effective and economical treatment of your disability. You can receive up to $4,100 if you have a service-connected disability and up to $1,200 if you have a non-service-connected disability.