In limited circumstances, the VA will authorize up to $20,235.20 for a veteran to purchase a vehicle. The types of vehicles authorized vary and can include a car, van, pickup, jeep, etc. It may also authorize payment for certain adaptive equipment to be added to an existing vehicle such as power steering, power brakes, power windows, power seats, and special equipment necessary to assist a person into and out of a vehicle.
Please note that this authorization cannot be applied retroactively to a vehicle or equipment already purchased. You must first submit the appropriate application as outlined below and be approved before any vehicle or equipment is purchased.
To be eligible for a vehicle purchase, an active duty service member or veteran must meet certain qualifications. (A veteran who is “treated as if service-connected” by qualifying under 38 U.S.C 1151 – which means an injury was sustained due to medical treatment at a VA sponsored medical facility or during vocational rehabilitation or compensated work therapy — may also be eligible.) The applicant must be service-connected for one of the conditions listed below or, if still on active duty, then have one of the conditions listed below that results from disease, injury or aggravation of injury incurred during active duty:
- Loss, or permanent loss of use, of one or both feet, OR
- Loss, or permanent loss of use, of one or both hands, OR
- Permanent impairment of vision in both eyes to a certain degree, OR
- Severe burn injury, OR
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
To qualify for adaptive equipment, you must meet the same requirements listed above. Another condition, ankylosis (or immobility of the joint) of one or both knees or hips which is service-connected or “treated as if service-connected” can also qualify a veteran for adaptive equipment.
To begin the qualification process, a veteran or service member should complete VA Form 21-4502, “Application for Automobile or Other Conveyance and Adaptive Equipment” and submit it to the VA. Be prepared to submit evidence along with the Application to prove that you have one of the conditions listed above.
If qualifying under the vision impairment condition, the evidence must show:
- Central Visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with glasses, OR
- Central Visual acuity that is greater than 20/200, if there is a visual field defect in which your peripheral field has contracted to such an extent that the widest diameter of visual fields subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees in the better eye.
If qualifying under the severe burn injury condition, the evidence must show:
The deep partial thickness or full thickness burns resulting in scar formation that cause contractures and limit motion of one or more extremities or the trunk and preclude the effective operation of an automobile.
If your application is approved, you will receive a letter from the VA with the authorized amount to be spent and a copy of the authorized Form 21-4502 that will have the “Certificate of Eligibility” portion completed by the VA. There is a Section III on that same form that will have to be completed by the Seller (or the Veteran) with specific information. The Seller must also attach a copy of a vehicle window sticker or an invoice listing the adaptive equipment to be purchased. The Seller should also provide a list of any adaptive equipment that was provided as standard equipment on the vehicle. The seller then has to send the completed form and attachments to the address listed in the authorization letter in order for payment to be sent.