VA Automobile Allowance 2020: What Veterans Should Know
Most veterans know about benefits they can receive through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, like health care and disability compensation. However, there are several benefits and financial assistance programs that you might not be aware of. In a previous blog post, Attorney Matthew Hill discussed the Lesser Known Benefits for Veterans. In that post, he addresses Automobile Allowance. Today I am going to greater detail about this particular benefit.
What Is Automobile Allowance?
The VA offers automobile allowance to veterans who are unable to drive due to their service-connected disability. The VA also offers an adaptive equipment benefit for veterans with certain types of impairments, including knee and hip joint immobility.
If you qualify for this automobile grant, you can receive a one-time payment of up to $21,488.29 to help you purchase a vehicle with special equipment. We will go more into detail about the different types of motor vehicle equipment that might qualify.
Veterans who meet the VA’s requirements for this benefit may qualify. According to VA.gov, veterans and military service members need to have the following to for eligibility:
- Loss, or permanent loss of use, of 1 or both feet, or
- Loss, or permanent loss of use, of 1 or both hands, or
- Permanent decreased vision in both eyes: 20/200 vision or less in your better eye with glasses, or greater than 20/200 vision but with a visual field defect that has reduced your peripheral vision to 20 degrees or less in your better eye, or
- A severe burn injury, or
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or
- Ankylosis in 1 or both knees or hips (Note: This qualifies you for an adaptive-equipment grant only)
What veterans find the most confusing about Automobile and Adaptive Equipment benefits is how exactly those benefits are processed and who processes them. Most veterans think that their local Regional Office (RO) handles all aspects of Automobile and Adaptive Equipment benefits. The reality is that obtaining these benefits is a back-and-forth process between the RO, the Prosthetics Department of the treating VA Medic al Center, and the seller of the automobile.
- Veteran fills out VA Form 21-4502 in duplicate and returns to the RO
- RO determines:
- Whether or not the veteran is eligible for the benefit due to a prior Rating Decision
- If the veteran has already received this benefit once before
Note: if the veteran has already been awarded for Automobile Allowance once before, he/she cannot receive it again.
- Once the RO determines that the veteran is eligible for the benefit, the RO will fill out Section II of the form and send to the veteran
- Veteran acquires the vehicle, completes Section III and sends back to the RO
- The seller sends the invoice of the vehicle to the RO for payment
- The RO finance department pays the seller for the vehicle
Adaptive Equipment Allowance
Adaptive Equipment includes, but is not limited to:
- Power steering
- Power brakes
- Power window lifts
- Power seats
- Special equipment to convey person in and out of the vehicle
To apply for Adaptive Equipment Allowance, the veteran must fill out the VA Form 10-1394 in duplicate. This form is typically supplied by the VA outpatient clinic. The veteran fills out the form, and the prosthetics department will forward the form to the finance department of the local VA RO.
Once the application is forwarded to the RO, the finance department will determine if the adaptive equipment is preapproved for reimbursement based on:
- The effective date of entitlement
- The veteran’s service-connected disability
- The special authorization of the local VA outpatient clinic
If these qualifications are not met, then the finance department will return the request to the local VA outpatient clinic. The designee of the Chief Medical Director will consider the claim. Once approved, the prosthetic department will signify approval of the application by completing the VA Form 10-1394. The form is then forwarded to the RO finance department for payment. The benefit can be paid either to the veteran or to the seller/installer.
Note: Claims for Adaptive Equipment can be filed when the equipment needs to be repaired, replaced, or reinstalled. Therefore, unlike claims for Automobile Allowance (which is granted only once in a veteran’s lifetime), Adaptive Equipment allowance can be awarded more than once.
Have Questions About Automobile Allowance and Adaptive Equipment?
If you’re a qualifying disabled veteran, and the VA denied your application for automobile allowance and adaptive equipment, the team at Hill & Ponton are here to help. Our attorneys support eligible veterans and their family members in their pursuit of VA benefits. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
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