Clothing Allowance is one of those benefits that the VA likes to refer to as “Special Claims”, along with Automotive/Adaptive Equipment Allowance and Specially Adapted Housing. We have discussed Automotive/Adaptive Equipment Allowance in a previous blog post. And like the other “Special Claims”, it is often difficult to determine to if you are eligible and how to apply for these benefits.
Clothing Allowance is a single, annual allowance paid out to the veteran, in the sum of $753. It compensates for the cost of clothing that is worn out or torn due to the use of prosthetics, orthopedics and/or medications used to treat a veteran’s service-connected condition. This allowance is paid out to:
- Veterans whose service-connected disabilities require wearing a prosthetic or orthopedic devices that wears out or tears clothing
- Veterans who have a skin condition resulting from service-connected disabilities, which must be treated by physician-prescribed medication that irreparably damages their “outergarments”
- Veterans were became disabled as the result of treatment at a VA facility (under 38 U.S.C 1151)
The Clothing Allowance includes appliances, certain types of clothing, and/or medications that have been prescribed by a physician to treat or compensate for the loss of a limb or a skin condition.
Appliances that contribute to wear and tear:
- Artificial limb
- Rigid brace
Types of Clothing included in the Clothing Allowance:
- Similar garments permanently damaged by qualifying appliances and/or medications
Note: shoes, hats, scarves, underwear, socks and similar garments are not included.
In some cases, a veteran can receive more than one Clothing Allowance per year. In order to qualify, the veteran must have more than one service-connected disability or skin condition that requires the use of more than one qualifying prosthetic or orthopedic device and/or prescribed medication, and that affect separate articles of clothing.
For example: A veteran lost his right leg below the knee while in combat. He uses a prosthetic leg, which causes his pants to wear out quickly. The veteran also has a skin condition on his right arm for which his physician has prescribed a strong medication that irreparably stains his shirts. Therefore, because the veteran has two distinct service-connected conditions that cause wear and tear on two separate articles of clothing, the veteran is entitled to two annual Clothing Allowances.
How to File a Claim
In order to file a claim for Clothing Allowance, the veteran must fill out the VA Form 10-8678, Application for Annual Clothing Allowance. It is a two page form that can be downloaded from the VA website or obtained from the prosthetics department at the local VA Medical Center. The veteran completes the first two pages, leaving the last page for the VA’s use only. The veteran must return the completed form to the prosthetics department of the local VA Medical Center. The VA Medical Center processes the application. This is important to note, as the majority of VA claims are processed by the Regional Offices (RO). But for Clothing Allowances, this is not the case. In fact, if the RO receives a claim for Clothing Allowance, it is supposed to forward the claim to VA Medical Center or Outpatient Clinic (OPC) of jurisdiction (nearest to the residence of the veteran). The only reason the RO would handle Clothing Allowance would be to determine entitlement and payment of accrued clothing allowance.
In order to determine eligibility for the Clothing Allowance, the VA Medical Center will schedule and perform a Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exam for the affected conditions. This exam will determine whether or not:
- the use of prescribed prosthetics, orthopedic appliances and/or medications cause significant wear and tear on the veteran’s clothing
- the veteran is entitled to more than one clothing allowance per year
Payment for Clothing Allowance
Annual Clothing Allowance is paid out yearly, between September 1 and October 31. If a veteran applied for and was granted Clothing Allowance benefits by August 1, the veteran would receive payment for that year. But if a veteran applies for Clothing Allowance after August 1, the veteran would receive payment the following year.
Do I need to Re-apply?
Veterans who are receiving compensation for the loss of an extremity and who permanently wear or use prosthetic devices do not need to re-apply for the Clothing Allowance. They will automatic ally receive the allowance every year.
Military retirees not receiving VA compensation, and persons wearing or using prosthetic/orthopedic devices on a temporary basis, must apply for the allowance yearly.