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If you are a military veteran or servicemember with a disability, you may be eligible for housing grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Each type of grant provides funding support to veterans who need to adapt their residences to meet their medical needs. You should get to know key facts about four VA disability housing grants to understand whether you may qualify.
4 Types of Housing Grants for Disabled Veterans
- Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant
- Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grant
- Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) Grant
- VA Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) Grant
Note that the SAH, SHA, and TRA grants require you to have a service-connected disability to qualify. However, you can qualify for the HISA grant if you have a non-service related condition. All four VA disability housing grants can help you adapt your residence to accommodate your disability.
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers several programs to support the housing needs of servicemembers and veterans. Individuals with a veterans disability rating may qualify for grants to adapt their homes to meet medical needs, as well as for unemployment compensation through TDIU. In addition to grants for disabled veterans, the VA offers loans that can help you purchase, refinance, or improve your home. If you have a military service history, you should make yourself aware of the housing programs available through the VA.
Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant
One valuable VA grant that military veterans can consider is the Specially Adapted Housing grant. Through the SAH grant, a veteran who owns or plans to own a home can apply for funds to make the home more accessible to meet medical needs.
In order to qualify, the eligible veteran or servicemember must have one or more of the following medical conditions:
- The loss of—or loss of use of—both upper extremities that prevents the use of the arms at or above the elbow
- The loss or loss of use of a lower leg combined with chronic issues associated with certain diseases or injuries
- Blindness in both eyes (meaning having only light perception), along with the loss of or loss of use of one leg
- Total disability caused by severe burns
- The loss or loss of use of both lower extremities that requires the use of a wheelchair, braces, canes, or crutches for locomotion
- The loss of one lower extremity (either the foot or leg) that occurred after September 11, 2001 and requires the servicemember or veteran to use a wheelchair, crutches, braces, or a cane for balance
Each year, the VA sets a maximum grant amount for SAH funds available to veteran applicants. That amount varies year to year based on VA budgeting mandates, legal changes, and other factors. Also, there are limits on the number of veterans who can receive SAH grants each fiscal year. Notably, only 30 veterans can qualify for SAH grants for the loss of one lower limb after September 11, 2001, as mandated by Congress.
You should know that approval for SAH grants are conditional based on whether it is medically feasible for you to live in the proposed home. That means the adaptation proposed should align with the needs of your specific disabilities.
In addition, you must ensure that it is “economically feasible” for you to live in the home by demonstrating that you can afford typical homeownership expenses. If the grant does not cover the entire cost of your home building or modification project, you will need to certify that you can cover any remaining expenses. You do not need to have a VA home loan to qualify for the SAH grant.
Approved VA disability housing grants under the SAH program can be used for a range of expenses, including land survey or architectural fees, certain attorney fees, and construction-related expenses. Once your home project is complete, you will need to allow a SAH agent to inspect the property to ensure it meets VA eligibility requirements for your locale.
Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grant
The Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant is available to active duty servicemembers and veterans with permanent, service-connected disabilities. Specifically, SHA grants support the following veterans disability scenarios:
- Severe burn injuries
- Loss or loss of use of both arms or hands below the elbows
- Blindness in both eyes, with visual acuity of 20/200 in the better eye with the use of corrective lenses
If you qualify, you can use SHA funds to modify your current home. You or a family member must own the home that you wish to modify using SHA grant funds. Each year, there is a specific cap on the amount of SHA grant funds you can receive. You will need to double-check the current threshold each year on the VA website.
Also, you should know that any modifications must meet medical needs. Depending on your situation, those needs may include modifying flooring or walkways to enhance accessibility, adding guardrails or handrails for safety, or other relevant changes. Cosmetic changes, such as additions or basement remodels, do not qualify for SHA grants.
Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) Grant
While the SAH and SHA VA disability housing grants tie to residences where veterans live permanently, one grant supports veterans in temporary living situations. That grant—the Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) grant—provides funds to veterans who are living with family members.
To receive funds under the TRA grant, you must have a medical condition that qualifies you under either the SAH or the SHA grant. The maximum amount available to you depends on whether you qualify under SAH or SHA—and varies by year.
VA Home Improvement and Structural Alterations (HISA) Grant
The VA Home Improvement and Structural Alterations (HISA) grant also provides home modification funds for veterans and servicemembers. Specifically, the funds must support medically necessary structural alterations for a primary residence.
HISA grants are available for the following type of home improvements:
- Adapting entrances and exits to improve accessibility
- Improving access to lavatory or sanitary facilities
- Enhancing access to kitchen and/or bathroom counters or sinks
- Adapting driveways or entrance paths to facilitate home access through ramp construction
- Upgrading electrical or plumbing systems to support the use of necessary medical equipment
Certain types of home improvements are not covered by HISA. These include installation of jacuzzis and hot tubs, exterior decking, walkways to outdoor buildings, and any new construction.
HISA offers lifetime benefits of $6,800 to individuals with service-connected disabilities and some non-service connected conditions. To qualify for the $6,800 grant, non-service related disabilities must be at least 50% service related.
You can also apply for a HISA grant of up to $2,000 for other non-service related disabilities. That means you can consider pursuing HISA funds if you have disabilities that are not connected to your military service.
How to Apply for VA Housing Disability Grants
If you believe you qualify for a VA housing grant, you have several options to apply. You’ll need your Social Security number and VA claim or file number—if you have one—to apply. For questions or the application process or regulations, you can turn to a veterans disability attorney.
For SHA, SAH, or TRA grants, you can visit the VA’s eBenefits site to apply for a grant. To access the eBenefits site, you’ll need your DS Logon, which is an ID issued by the Department of Defense (DoD). You can use it to sign on to many VA and DoD sites, including eBenefits, with a single password. If you don’t have a DS Logon, you can register for one on the eBenefits site. You can also use the eBenefits site to track the status of your grant claim.
If you’d prefer to apply by mail, you’ll need to acquire an application form for SHA or SAH grants, VA Form 26-4555. You can find the form on the VA website or call the VA to request that one be mailed to you. Contact the VA at 1-800-827-1000 from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM Eastern time to request a form by mail. Once completed, you can mail the form to your regional VA loan center.
Another alternative is to visit your regional VA office to apply. You can secure a copy of VA Form 26-4555 in advance and bring it with you to the nearest VA office.
When applying for a HISA grant, you’ll follow a different process. First, you’ll need a prescription written or authorized by a VA physician that includes specific details. Your prescription needs to list your name, address, and phone number, along with the specific home improvement or structural alteration needed. The prescription should list your diagnosis and provide a medical rationale for the requested improvement or alteration.
Next, you’ll complete VA Form 10-103, which is an application for assistance for home improvements and structural alterations. Also, note that you’ll need to make any requests for advance payments on your application.
If you live in a rental property, you should provide a signed, notarized statement from the owner that authorizes the alterations or improvements. You’ll also need to include an itemized estimate of all expected costs, including materials, permits, labor, and inspection expenses. Finally, be sure to include a color photo of the unimproved area for review by the VA. In some instances, a VA official may need to perform an on-site inspection before approving your grant request.
Other Advice When Applying for a Disability Home Modification Grant
Research Eligibility Criteria for Specific Grants
Understand the specific requirements set by government agencies, nonprofits, or charitable organizations offering these grants. Explore various grant options, such as those specifically tailored for mobility, accessibility, or assistive technology. Familiarize yourself with the application process and any supporting documentation required.
Document Your Needs and Explain the Impact
Prepare comprehensive documentation outlining your specific needs and how modifications to your home will significantly improve your quality of life and independence. Include medical reports, assessments, or letters from healthcare professionals that support your case. Provide a clear and compelling explanation of how the proposed modifications will address the challenges you face and enhance your overall well-being.
Seek Professional Assistance
Consider reaching out to professionals experienced in disability home modifications, such as occupational therapists or architects specializing in accessible design. They can provide expert advice and help create a well-designed plan that aligns with the grant requirements. Their expertise can significantly strengthen your application.
Submit a Complete and Well-Organized Application
Follow the grant application guidelines meticulously. Ensure all required forms are filled accurately and provide any supporting documentation requested. Organize your application in a logical manner, making it easy for reviewers to understand the scope of modifications and their impact.
VA Disability Housing Grants Are Available to Assist Qualifying Veterans
Living with a disability can be extremely difficult. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs has funding available to support disabled veterans and servicemembers. If you have any service connected disabilities, you should explore housing grant options from the VA. You may find that money is available to help you adapt your home to make it more accessible or safe for you. If you have a history of military service, learning about the VA’s four housing grant programs is a smart financial move.
Even if you don’t have a service-connected condition, you should know that HISA grant funds can support veterans with aging-related or other disabilities. Although the fund cap is lower for non-service related disabilities, you can use funds for medically-necessary adaptations such as guardrails or entrance ramps for your home.
Some funds are for permanent housing that you or your family members own. However, other VA disability housing grants provide funds for homes that you share temporarily with family members or rental properties. The VA also has specific financial assistance programs to support homeless veterans as well.
For three out of the four VA housing grant programs—SAH, SHA, and TRA—you can apply via the VA eBenefits website. The website also lets you track the status of existing claims. If preferred, you can mail in your application for these VA disability housing grants or drop it off at your nearest regional VA office.
HISA requires an endorsement from a VA physician. You’ll need confirmation of your diagnosis along with a medical justification for the proposed alterations or improvements to your home.
Your home should be a place of safety and comfort. If you have a disability, you may need to modify your home to meet your medical needs and ensure an optimal quality of life. Home improvements and alterations can be very costly, but military servicemembers and veterans can receive grant funds to defray these expenses. Every disabled vet and military family should learn about VA disability housing grants and eligibility requirements to secure all the financial assistance every disabled vet deserves.