Under a new Federal regulation, Veterans and active duty service members with service-connected ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) can receive financial assistance with the purchase of a vehicle and adaptive equipment.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is authorized to automatically issue a certificate of eligibility for financial assistance in purchasing a vehicle and adaptive equipment for active duty service members and Veterans diagnosed with ALS. Financial assistance is available in the purchase of a “new or used automobile or other conveyance (such as a van, truck, jeep, or station wagon).” Adaptive equipment can include power steering, power brakes, power window lifts, power seats, and any special equipment needed for navigation in and out of the vehicle.
Severe burn injuries and ALS are the most recent disabilities included in eligibility criteria for the vehicle allowance. Under the new regulation, Veterans and active duty Service members must have one of the following [service-connected] disabilities:
(1) Loss or permanent loss of use of one or both feet;
(2) Loss or permanent loss of use of one or both hands;
(3) Permanent impairment of vision of both eyes: Central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye, with corrective glasses, or central visual acuity of more than 20/200 if there is a field defect in which the peripheral field has contracted to such an extent that the widest diameter of visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20° in the better eye.
(4) Severe burn injury: 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 effective operation of an automobile.
(5) Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
(6) For adaptive equipment eligibility only, ankylosis of one or both knees or one or both hips.
Though the effective date is January 13, 2016, the regulatory change applies to all applications either pending or received at the VA after February 25, 2015.
Veterans and active duty Service Members must file a formal claim on the VA Form 21-4502 Application for Automobile or Other Conveyance and Adaptive Equipment. Automobile grant benefits are paid directly to the seller.
Read the entire Federal Register Notice published January 13, 2016 at https://federalregister.gov/a/2016-00490.
References: Public Law 112-154, Title 38, United States Code, Section 3902 (38USC3902), Title 38, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 3.808 (38CFR3.808), VA Adjudication Manual M21-1, Part IX, Subpart i, Chapter 2 updated December 22, 2015.