Veterans Home Improvement Help
Veterans Home Improvement – I didn’t know that the HISA Grant could help any veteran with a home improvement! I had heard of the SHA and the SAH Grants, through the veteran service officer accreditation process, but the HISA Grant was a new one. So what are all these acrostics – HISA, SHA and SAH?
Well, the SAH is the Specially Adapted Housing Grant, which helps veterans with certain service-connected disabilities live independently in a barrier-free environment. Okay, what about the SHA? The SHA is the Special Housing Adaptation Grant, which helps veterans with certain service-connected disabilities adapt or purchase a home to accommodate their disability.
Now, that is as clear as mud, but don’t write them off, because the SAH Grant could be worth up to $81,080 if you were to get all three of them! I’ll write up an article next edition to explain it and the SHA Grant!
What about that HISA Grant for Veterans Home Improvement?
I’m glad you asked! The HISA grant stands for Home Improvement Structural Adaptation Grant. The HISA Grant provides for medically necessary improvements and structural alterations to a veteran’s primary residence – for things like a more easily accessible entrance, or entrance path or driveway, accessibility to the kitchen or bathroom sink, or for improving plumbing or electrical systems made necessary due to installation of medical equipment.
However, the HISA grant will not pay for other helpful and nice to have things. For example, walkways to exterior buildings, widening of driveways, a spa, hot tub or Jacuzzi, or exterior decking in excess of 8 feet by 8 feet do not qualify. The HISA grant will also not help in the removal of equipment or appliances such as portable ramps, porch lifts, stair glides or routine repairs.
So how does this HISA Grant work (if I have a need, or know someone who does)? First, submit an application on the VA Form 10-0103. Then make sure that you get a consult from a VA doctor, physician assistant or social worker. Oh boy, because then you get a packet of information to complete! Remember, the VA is a system and you just have to work within the system. They only have a certain number of grants they award every year and you want one of them!
Once you complete the HISA package, hopefully you won’t be having a hissy-fit by then, a VA Prosthetics Representative conducts a pre-inspection within 30 days. If the HISA Grant is disapproved, you’ll get a denial letter (AND a VA form 4167 “Your Rights To Appeal Our Decision.” Oh boy! If the grant IS approved, then you will get an approval letter within 30 days.
There are other issues like an advanced payment. If you request an advance payment, you’ll get a check within 30 days of approval. If you don’t request advance payment, you can begin the project. However, the veteran, who starts the project, thinking he/she deserves approval, but the VA doesn’t approve it, is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. If the project is denied, the VA won’t pay anything! I hate to be negative, but don’t fall into that trap!
When the veterans home improvement project is complete, you can request final payment within 60 days of HISA approval “with required documentation.” Of course, keep all your paperwork (that can be the hardest part in life). The VA may conduct a post-inspection within 30 days after receiving the final payment request. Finally, the VA pays the veteran within 30 days after receipt of final payment request or post-inspection. It’s as SIMPLE as that!
Really, it’s not that bad, but like everything with the VA, it’s a system. If you understand the system and are willing to work within it, the process can go as smooth as a huckleberry sundae.
Now, what I also didn’t know is that the lifetime HISA benefit (one time only) is either $6800 or $2000. It is $6800 for veterans who have a service connected condition or veterans who have a non-service connected condition, but rated 50% or more service connected. There is a lifetime benefit of up to $2000 for veterans who have a non-service connected condition.
Does the process sound effortless? Contact your local veteran service officer and he/she will be happy to assist you. Remember, I’ll write about the SHA and SAH Grants in the next issue.
by Bryan Hult, Bonner County Veterans Service Officer
Bryan Hult is the Bonner County Veterans Services Officer. He enlisted in the infantry, graduated from Officer Candidate School and Jump School from Fort Benning, Georgia and Flight School from Fort Rucker, Alabama. He then flew helicopters at Fort Hood, Texas. His military education included the Army War College in Carlisle, PA. After seminary, he served at every level of the Army chaplaincy in the Indiana National Guard and retired in 2010 as the As-sistant Chief of Chaplains.