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Thread: Another Auto Grant Question

  1. #1

    Another Auto Grant Question

    My father is a non-service connected T2 complete in a power chair (when it arrives) and returned from rehab about two weeks ago, so we're all in a huff to sort out his mode of transportation going forward. He is enrolled for VA care, but given how recently he exited rehab, he has not yet been to a VA facility

    Cutting to the chase, my parents have been confused by the Automobile Allowance / Adaptive Equipment Grants as described by various advocates and PVA NSOs. I've tried to reach out to his NSO unsuccessfully.

    Doing some research, it seems to me that he would be eligible for some adaptive equipment grant funding, but due to the lack of a service connection, not eligible for the one-time grant/allowance.

    Is that accurate?

  2. #2
    Hello and welcome to the forum. Quick questions? What type of SCI injury or disease does he have? You mentioned he hasn't been to a VA Facilitity yet. Where do you live and what VA SCI Center is near you?

    To answer your question based on the info you provided your father does not qualify for the auto grant ($18900). He will qualify for a vehicle modification but only as a PASSANGER. Any modification for your father to drive which at T2 he might be able to will be your responsibility. You will have to provide the chasis for the modification (new/used) such as a van. Speaking of vans, the newer vans both front seats are on rollers so either one can be removed as to allow the wheelchair user to either ride as a passenger or a driver (hint hint). If you buy a new van/ vehicle the hand controls you can get installed through their mobility program which every car manufacturer has. The vehicle modification alone is HUGE!! So if you can take advantage of it. The vehicle modification for non-service connected Vets is usally a one time deal. Usually is the key word because every effort is made to remove the old adaptive equipment from one vehicle and installed into the next vehicle. Some of these new vans you can't do that.

    Since your father is already enrolled in the VA Health System he needs to referred to the SCI HUB Facility that will take care of him. Once he is referred and gets assigned a SCI Primary Dr, this will get the ball rolling on a number of things. He needs to be catergorized as catastrophically disabled which will take care of any copays he will need to pay for services such as meds/visits in the VA.

    Keep all of your receipts for everything having to do with your father's care and also your mother's. They will need these reciepts if they apply for a Non Service Pension.

    Gather up medical records and images from the hospital he received his treatment. The VA SCI Center will need that when he gets referred.

    Email me if you have any other questions......

  3. #3
    Thanks very much for the welcome and quick response.

    To answer your questions, he "obliterated" (spinal surgeon's words) T4 in an accident and fractured T12, transecting the cord at T4. Thus far, his function has been limited to more of a T2 outcome than T4. He lives in the New York City area and the Bronx VA SCI center will not be inconvenient once we have transportation.

    A few follow-up questions for you.
    With regard to providing a chassis for modification, does this imply we must purchase a vehicle that has not yet been converted or can the costs of specifically eligible conversion items be itemized even though they're already embedded in the vehicle we purchase (in the case we buy a used vehicle that has already been converted)?

    Timing—The adaptive equipment application notes that all modifications require prior authorization. We’re making calls this morning to ascertain when he can get into to the Bronx SCI center for evaluation and begin to work with the SCI coordinator. Once that happens (assuming this needs to happen before anything else), what is the timeline for approval for the expenditures? The bottom line is that we do not want to have my father in a situation where he is immobile for months while we wait for paper approval. If reimbursement takes months and months, that’s fine and less relevant. If we need to wait months before we can purchase a vehicle, however, I would suspect we would go ahead and make a purchase and hope to use the adaptive equipment dollars for van #2 sometime down the road assuming rules stay as they are. Just trying to make a game plan and any counsel is much appreciated.

  4. #4
    I will get you the contact info for the NSO in the Bronx VA. If it all possible I would hold off on the an, take advantage of any type of Access services they may have. They might try and get him back admitted in for rehab depending on how long he had rehab and how long it has been since he was discharged.

    The vans are a little tricky because you have to make sure that his wheelchair will fit. You can either purchase a vehicle (new or used) and get it modified or get one already modified (new or used). Getting reimbursed for a vehicle already modified is a little tricky if you are not service connected.

    The most important thing is to get him into the SCI system. If he already has a primary VA Dr, prior to his SCI injury he can go back to that Dr and have him put in for a SCI Consul.

    Enrique

  5. #5
    Senior Member skippy13's Avatar
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    Are you sure that anyone who is not service connected can even recieve a grant?


    Title 38: Pensions, Bonuses, and Veterans' Relief

    CHAPTER I: DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

    PART 17: MEDICAL

    : Automotive Equipment and Driver Training

    17.156 - Eligibility for automobile adaptive equipment.

    Automobile adaptive equipment may be authorized if the Under Secretary for Health or designee determines that such equipment is deemed necessary to insure that the eligible person will be able to operate the automobile or other conveyance in a manner consistent with such person's safety and so as to satisfy the applicable standards of licensure established by the State of such person's residency or other proper licensing authority.

    (a) Persons eligible for adaptive equipment are:

    (1) Veterans who are entitled to receive compensation for the loss or permanent loss of use of one or both feet; or the loss or permanent loss of use of one or both hands; or ankylosis of one or both knees, or one of both hips if the disability is the result of injury incurred or disease contracted in or aggravated by active military, naval or air service.

    (2) Members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty who are suffering from any disability described in paragraph (a)(1) of this section incurred or contracted during or aggravated by active military service are eligible to receive automobile adaptive equipment.

    (b) Payment or reimbursement of reasonable costs for the repair, replacement, or reinstallation of adaptive equipment deemed necessary for the operation of the automobile may be authorized by the Under Secretary for Health or designee.

    (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 3902)
    Anything worth doing, is worth doing to excess

  6. #6
    Thanks Enrique.

    Double checked VA research based on Skippy's comment and noted this on the VA Prosthetics page here:

    Eligibility: (Eligible service-connected Veterans who are non-drivers are not eligible for reimbursement for operational equipment)


    • Veterans service-connected for the loss, or loss of use of one or both feet or hands, or service-connected ankylosis of one or both knees or hips.
    • Veterans service-connected for permanent impairment of vision of both eyes that have a central acuity of 20/200.
    • Non service-connected Veterans are eligible for equipment/modifications that will allow ingress and egress from a vehicle only

  7. #7
    I can't speak to the VA issue. but, I can tell you my experience is that Lexus has always given me back up to $1000 for my hand controls each time I get a new car. They have done this 3 times now. I am sure most manufactures have a similar program. I pay for them in advance and then submits the receipts with a signed form from the Lexus dealer and get a check back in like 2 months. So if you buy a new vehicle keep that in mind also.

  8. #8
    Senior Member skippy13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tynanch8 View Post
    Thanks Enrique.

    Double checked VA research based on Skippy's comment and noted this on the VA Prosthetics page here:

    Eligibility: (Eligible service-connected Veterans who are non-drivers are not eligible for reimbursement for operational equipment)


    • Veterans service-connected for the loss, or loss of use of one or both feet or hands, or service-connected ankylosis of one or both knees or hips.
    • Veterans service-connected for permanent impairment of vision of both eyes that have a central acuity of 20/200.
    • Non service-connected Veterans are eligible for equipment/modifications that will allow ingress and egress from a vehicle only
    Sorry about the bad news, but I have been through similar situations with other vets. If he can get service connection for any condition incurred while on active duty or in some cases reserves, then he may qualify and I do not believe that there is a minimum percentage of disability needed.

    You need to see a county or state VSO in your area. There is one at the VAMC in the Bronx (in a building on the premises anyway). If he claims a condition it must be one that he incurred or was treated for in the service that has not resolved. If he is service connected for any condition already and receiving benefits, then you may be able to qualify for the grant, but I'm not 100% on that.
    Anything worth doing, is worth doing to excess

  9. #9
    I know he's not eligible for the grant funding for the vehicle (and yes, that's a lot of money), but the conversion costs for a van are still substantial and any money he's entitled to for that purpose will be welcome.

    We have his first VA appointment in the Bronx set up and are working to make the day as productive as possible.

    Thanks again for all of your input and help.

  10. #10
    The vehicle modification for non-service connected Veterans falls under medial necessity so that the Vet can be taken to and from medical appts. You should be referred to a KT driving specialist who will know the ins and outs of vehicle modifications. There are ways to have your vehicle modified as a driver so that isn't a lost cause.

    The service connected Vets can get 2 vehicles modified every 4 years so make sure you keep an eye out because you can get some pretty good deals from them.

    Every car manufacturer has a mobility program but for some reason most salesmen including managers don't know about it. You have to go through their website and see what amount they will pay for and also what their procedures are because they are all different.

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