Does the VA Help With Costs for Things Such as a Walk-in Tub?

by Jan 9, 2019Disability Benefits

Home » Blog » Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) » Does the VA Help With Costs for Things Such as a Walk-in Tub?

The VA helps with a number of home improvement costs for qualifying veterans. But, as of December 2018, it no longer provides grants for walk-in tubs. This change comes courtesy of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Directive 1113.74, which updates the VA’s procedures for giving financial assistance to veterans to help with making structural modifications to their homes. From 2008 to 2018, the VA offered grants for walk-in tubs on a case-by-case basis.

Even though you can longer receive financial help from the VA for the cost of a walk-in tub, the VA still provides grants for many home modifications and improvements that may help your quality of life. A VA disability lawyer can review your situation and let you know of any VA programs you qualify for but are not taking advantage of. To receive a free consultation with Disability Advantage Group, call 865-566-0800 today.

What Is a VA Home Improvement or Modification Grant

The Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) program is a veterans’ benefit administered by the VA and available to qualifying service members. HISA provides grants and financial assistance for updating, modifying, or altering a veteran’s home to accommodate a service-connected disability.

When a veteran applies and gets approved for a HISA grant to help pay for a home improvement or modification project, the veteran receives the funds for the project themselves rather than the money getting paid directly to the vendor. Also, the veteran may use a vendor of choice and does not have to submit competing bids. Previously, HISA required a veteran to obtain three bids before choosing a vendor.

The VA reviews all HISA applications, deciding whether a proposed project is eligible for a grant and, if so, how much money the veteran will receive.

Who Is Eligible for a Home Improvement or Modification Grant

Eligibility for a HISA grant requires that you meet one of two conditions:

  • You are a veteran who is eligible for medical services under the VA’s code 38 USC 1710(a), which requires you to have a service-connected disability.
  • You received a medical discharge from the U.S. military for a disability you suffered or that was aggravated in the course of active duty service. You would be eligible to file for a HISA grant while hospitalized or receiving outpatient medical care for such a condition.

In addition, the modification, improvement, or alteration requested in your HISA claim must be medically necessary for the continuation of home health treatment for your condition or must be necessary to provide you with access to your home or to a bathroom inside the home.

Approved Projects for HISA Grants

According to the new guidelines, examples of home improvement products that may qualify for HISA grants include:

  • Wheelchair ramps used for entering and exiting the residence
  • Lift devices to access kitchen or bathroom counters
  • Entrance pathways or driveways
  • Plumbing system updates to support medical equipment
  • Electrical system updates to support medical equipment
  • Central heating and cooling
  • Hardwood flooring (for wheelchair mobility)
  • Improved door handles and latches
  • Installation of handrails
  • Lowering of windows
  • Kitchen or bathroom counter modification
  • Window shading or tinting
  • Barrier-free or roll-in showers
  • Tub-to-shower conversion
  • Widened doorways at the entrance to your home and to the bathrooms inside the home
  • Fencing for service dogs
  • Interior and exterior lighting
  • Costs of material and labor for any project listed above
  • Additional project costs in the form of taxes, permits, or fees
  • Improvements or repairs to previous HISA-approved projects

Unapproved Projects for HISA Grants

The following projects do not qualify for HISA grants as of the 2018 directive:

  • Construction of a new home
  • Walk-in tubs, sit-down tubs, or Jacuzzi style tubs
  • Exterior decks or patios
  • Paths or driveways leading to sheds, barns, or workshops
  • Elevators
  • Home security systems
  • Routine maintenance

Note that walk-in tubs appear second on the list of unapproved projects for HISA grants. It is also worth noting, however, that barrier-free and roll-in showers both are listed as projects that are HISA-eligible. If you truly need a walk-in tub, you may be able to modify the project slightly and have it reclassified as a roll-in or barrier-free shower, thus making it eligible for a HISA grant.

Call 865-566-0800 for a Free VA Disability Consultation Today

If you have additional questions about VA benefits, including HISA grants, or need help with an application or appeal, the VA disability lawyers at Disability Advantage Group are eager to help. We are passionate about connecting disabled veterans with the benefits they deserve, and we want to put our resources to work for you. For a free consultation, call us today at 865-566-0800.