The Veterans Administration has Specially Adapted Housing Grants available to veterans or servicemembers who are entitled to compensation due to a permanent and total service-connected disability as a result of a number of things. Veterans or servicemembers who experience the loss or loss of use of both of their lower extremities, precluding mobility without the assistance of crutches, braces, canes or the use of a wheelchair are eligible for the grant. So are veterans or servicemembers who are blind in both eyes and have only light perception as well as the loss or loss of use of one lower extremity.
Veterans and servicemembers who experience the loss or loss of use of one lower extremity combined with the loss or loss of use of one upper extremity, or residuals of organic injury or disease are eligible as well. Veterans and servicemembers who experience a permanent and total disability due to a severe burn injury are eligible for Specially Adapted Housing Grants too.
The determination of whether or not a person is eligible involves the person’s current, or most recent, VA Rating Decision that has been issued by the Veterans Service Center of jurisdiction. It establishes a veteran’s or servicemember’s basic eligibility for the grant. The VA, of course, subjects a VA Rating Decision to both review and revision.
There are some statutory requirements for eligibility. For example; it has to be medically feasible for a veteran or servicemember to live in the house they have chosen. It may not be feasible for a veteran who uses a wheelchair to live in a house filled with stairs to access bedrooms, bathrooms, laundry rooms etc. The house a veteran or servicemember has must be adapted in order to be suitable to their needs for the purposes of their living in the home. If the house cannot be adapted to suit the person, the grant may not be purposeful. It must also be financially feasible for a veteran or servicemember to acquire the house itself, with assistance provided through the grant.
Time Limits and Money
There is no time limit on the use of the Specially Adapted Housing Grant, good news for veterans or servicemembers with disabilities. Eligible persons might receive a grant that is not greater than 50% of the cost of a specially adapted home, which is up to the aggregate maximum amount allowed by law. To the best knowledge of this writer, the year 2008 found the maximum grant allowed to be $63,780; an amount that is adjusted on an annual basis based upon the cost of construction index. The first adjustment happened on October 1st of 2009, with additional adjustments taking place every October 1st afterwards. Future adjustments either increase the amount of the grants or leave them unchanged.
Veterans and servicemembers can use the Specially Adapted Housing grant up to three times, according to Public Law 109-233. When the maximum amounts of the grant increase, veterans or servicemembers who have yet to use the grant amounts available up to three times might be entitled to a grant that is equivalent to the increase in the maximum grant amount at the time.
Where and How the Specially Adapted Housing Grant may be Used
Any real property a veteran or servicemember has purchased, constructed, or adapted using the proceeds of a Specially Adapted Housing grant has to be located in specific locations. These locations include:
Within the United States, which, for purposes of 38 U.S.C. chapter 21, includes the several States, Territories, and possessions, including the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands
Outside the United States, in a country or political subdivision which allows individuals to have or acquire a beneficial property interest, and in which the Secretary, in his or her discretion, has determined that it is reasonably practicable for the Secretary to provide assistance in acquiring specially adapted housing.
As you can tell, the options are very wide-open where locations are concerned. It appears the main focus in this regard is ensuring the property is real, it is located in the areas mentioned, and that assistance can be provided in adapting the property.
So how can veterans or servicemembers use the Specially Adapted Housing grant? Eligible persons have the option to use up to the full amount of the grant under one of the several different, ‘Plans,’ the VA has outlined…
Plan (1): A veteran or servicemember might choose to build a home on land to be acquired for that purpose.
Plan (2): A veteran or servicemember might build a home on land they already own if the land is suitable for specially adapted housing.
Plan (3): A veteran or servicemember might remodel a home that already exist, if it can be made suitable for them through specially adapted housing.
Plan (4): When a veteran or servicemember has already acquired a specially adapted home without the assistance of a VA grant, the grant might be applied against the unpaid principle mortgage balance of their home.
Finding Out if You are Eligible
Veterans and servicemembers can find out if they are eligible at any VA office, although it is preferable if they choose to go to the VA office where their claim records are located. They can also call the toll-free number for the VA: 1-800-827-1000 to find out.
When a veteran or servicemember is advised of their eligibility for a Specially Adapted Housing grant, they will receive a, ‘Notice of Eligibility.’ A VA Specially Adapted Housing Agent will visit them to counsel them in every way they can in regards to using the grant. Veterans or servicemembers will also be provided with a supplemental application form, ‘VA Form 26-4555c,’ the, ‘Veteran’s Supplemental Application for Assistance in Acquiring Specially Adapted Housing.’ Veterans and servicemembers need to fill out this form when they are ready to obtain the grant itself.
When a veteran or servicemember’s request for the grant has been approved, they will receive a commitment letter from the VA that sets the terms and conditions under which the funding will be made available to them. Contracts that are executed by veterans or servicemembers have to include the condition that it is subject to VA approval and their obtaining the grant. Check out the links below for further information regarding the Specially Adapted Housing grant.
“Specially Adapted Housing Agents are specialists in this field and will provide assistance to the veteran or servicemember . However the veteran or servicemember is allowed freedom of choice when it comes to location, financing and contractor.”
"This pamphlet provides assistance to the physically handicapped veterans, servicemembers and to architects/designers in producing the best possible home for veterans and servicemembers. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hopes that the information presented in this pamphlet will increase the architect’s or designer’s sensitivity to the needs of the veteran or servicemember and facilitate awareness of the design challenges faced."
This page includes links to a variety of information regarding the VA Specially Adapted Housing Grant. There are two items on this page that help you to apply, as well as additional information.
“Veteran's Application in Acquiring Specially Adapted Housing or Special Home Adaption Grant. Complete this form and submit it to your nearest Regional Loan Center.”