On 19 March 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that veterans and active-duty military personnel with service-connected Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, are now presumed medically eligible for the VA’s Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grants, which help pay for the costs for building, buying or adapting a home, up to almost $68,000. Veterans and servicemembers with service-connected ALS will be determined medically eligible for the maximum grant. It is also estimated the change will lop off 12 months in the overall process.
This is yet another in a series of actions which demonstrate the evolution of the VA’s thinking regarding Lou Gehrig’s disease and its devastating effects. In 2008 the VA established a presumption of service connection for ALS for any veteran who develops the disease at any time after separation from service, thus making them eligible for monthly VA disability compensation benefits. It had been determined veterans suffer from this affliction at a greater rate than the general public for some reason.
The VA then amended its disability rating scale in January 2012 to assign a 100-percent disability evaluation for service-connected ALS. As a result, veterans with service-connected ALS no longer had to file multiple claims with VA for increased benefits as their condition deteriorated.
Now, the new SAH ruling eliminates the delays incurred in modifying a home to accommodate this often rapidly progressing disease because the present condition of the veteran is not sufficiently debilitating to affect mobility to the degree normally required by an SAH grant. The change effectively allows both the VA and the veteran to get ahead of the power curve.
The ultimate goal of providing a barrier-free living environment that affords a level of independent living that the veteran or servicemember would not otherwise enjoy is now better served.
For more information, visit: http://benefits.va.gov/homeloans/adaptedhousing.asp .
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As of 19 March 2014