Grants for Disabled Veterans to Make Their Homes Accessible

By Fortress VA Loans
Homeowner Education

While it would be shortsighted and illogical to say that the sacrifices made by one military member and their family are greater or more important than those made by any other service member, it’s certainly true that some people leave military service with greater physical challenges to overcome than others. For veterans whose service to our county leaves them permanently, severely, or totally disabled, merely re-learning how to take care of themselves and finding ways to do formerly simple tasks can be completely overwhelming. If their homes are not well suited to getting around with a wheelchair, cane, prosthetic, or other device, adjusting to civilian life can seem utterly hopeless.

Fortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers several grants to aid disabled veterans and their caretakers in making the necessary modifications to create workable, liveable home environments that provide disabled service members as much safety and independence as possible. Depending on the particulars of the disability and the home that needs to be modified, disabled veterans may be eligible to receive one of the following VA grants.

Home Improvement and Structural Alteration (HISA)

HISA grants provide financial resources for improving mobility and access in a disabled veteran’s place of residence. The disability does not have to be related to your military service. Improvements covered by HISA include:

  • Modifying entrances and exits in the home
  • Improving access to essential bathroom facilities
  • Lowering bathroom and kitchen sinks and counters
  • Improving sidewalks, driveways, and paths in the immediate area of the home, including building wheelchair ramps
  • Adapting plubming and electrical systems to accommodate medical equipment

If you have a service-connected disability rating of 50% or greater, you may be eligible for HISA grants up to a lifetime limit of $6,800. If you have a non-service connected disablility, you may be eligible for grants up to a lifetime limit of $2,000. In order to apply for a HISA grant, you must submit a prescription written or approved by a VA physician detailing the medical conditions that make the proposed improvements necessary; a completed VA form 10-0103; a written, itemized list of all costs associated with the proposed improvements; and a color photograph of each area that needs to be modified. HISA can be used for rental properties as long as a signed, notarized statement of approval from the property’s owner is also submitted. The Department of Veterans Affairs may require an inspection of the site before approving or denying a grant.

Specially Adapted Housing (SAH)

SAH grants can only be used if your disability is permanent, total, and service-connected. To be eligible, you must have experienced one or more of the following:

  • Loss or loss of use of both arms and/or both legs
  • Loss or loss of use of one or both legs in service on or after September 11, 2001, to the extent that you require braces, crutches, canes, or a wheelchair to balance and move around
  • Blindness or near blindness (light perception only) in both eyes
  • Certain severe burn injuries
  • Certain severe respiratory injuries

These funds help disabled veterans live independently and without barriers. You can use SAH grants to purchase land and build a specially adapted home on it, to build a specially adapted home on land that is already owned, or remodel an existing home if it can be suitably adapted. You can also apply them to the unpaid principal mortgage balance of a specially adapted home that was purchased without the assistance of a VA grant.

Special Housing Adaptation (SHA)

Like SAH grants, SHA grants can only be used by veterans with permanent, total, service-connected disabilities. These are the conditions that will make you eligible for an SHA grant:

  • Blindness in both eyes (20/200 vision or less)
  • Loss of or loss of use of both hands
  • Certain severe burn injuries
  • Certain severe respiratory injuries

You do not have to live independently to receive an SHA grant; you may live in a home owned by a family member. These funds may be used to adapt a home you or a family member already owns, to adapt a home that you or a family member intend to purchase, or to purchase a home that has already been adapted to meet your needs.

Special adaptations covered by a SAH and SHA grants include:

  • Making bathrooms, kitchens, and bedrooms more accessible
  • Modifying doors, windows, and floors
  • Installing covered porches, walkways, and ramps
  • Widening hallways, carports, and garages
  • Pouring concrete or asphalt walkways outside the home
  • Installing sliding doors, grab bars, and handrails
  • Installing certain security features

Both SAH and SHA grants can only be used for a disabled veteran’s primary residence. You can receive up to three grants for your permanent home, up to the total lifetime caps, which are $77,307 for SAH grants and $15,462 for SHA grants (both numbers apply to fiscal year 2017). If you will be temporarily living with a family member whose home needs to be adapted for your disabilities, you may be eligible for an SAH grant up to $33,937 or an SHA grant up to $6,059. If you qualify for both SAH and SHA grants, you may only use one (generally SAH, since the dollar amount is higher).

Depending on your individual needs, you may be able to use a grant for disabled service personnel in conjunction with a VA home loan, or you may be able to receive such a grant even if you are unable to secure a VA home loan. To discuss all the possibilites, contact the Fortress VA Loans family of VA loan specialists and lenders today. We’ll evaluate your needs, inform you of all your options, and help you secure the home that works best for your future goals.

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