VA Automobile Allowance for Injured Veterans
A service-related injury impacts a person’s entire life, from how he or she completes daily activities to how they get around town and to doctor appointments. These effects can last for years after the injury, and can drain a person’s bank account, making it difficult to afford basic needs, including transportation. The servicemember or veteran might also need adaptive equipment to help them operate their vehicle, or to get in or out of the vehicle itself.
One of the lesser-know benefits from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is the Automobile Allowance, funds that help qualifying servicemembers and veterans purchase a vehicle or adaptive equipment for their vehicle. Veterans and servicemembers must be pre-approved to access these funds, but those who meet the requirements can receive up to $20,235.20 toward the purchase of an automobile, paid directly to the seller, one time during his or her lifetime.
Adaptive equipment may be granted multiple times and can include power steering, power brakes, power windows, power seats, and special equipment necessary to assist the eligible person getting in and out of the vehicle.
Applicants must have one of the following disabilities, either rated as service-connected or treated as such by the VA. Also for an active-duty servicemember, the grant may apply to injuries resulting from a disease incurred in, or aggravated by, active duty.
Injuries covered include:
- Loss, or permanent loss of use, of one or both feet
- Loss, or permanent loss of use, of one or both hands
- Permanent impairment of vision in both eyes to a certain degree
- Severe burn injury
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
To receive funds to help adapt a vehicle to meet the needs of an injury, the same list of service-related injuries also applies, with the addition of ankylosis (immobility of the joint) of one or both knees or hips.
There are several ways to apply for these grants, both online or in person. A veteran or service member can use one of these routes to apply for the grant:
- Complete VA Form 21-4502 ("Application for Automobile or Other Conveyance and Adaptive Equipment") and mail to your regional office
- Work with an accredited representative or agent
- Go to a VA regional office and have a VA employee assist you
If you are applying for adaptive equipment only, you should complete VA Form 10-1394 ("Application for Adaptive Equipment - Motor Vehicle") and submit it to your local VA medical center.
As with other VA benefits, veterans and servicemembers should be aware that they have earned this benefit through their service to their country. Grants such as the Automobile Allowance can allow a person or family to redirect personal funds to others areas and can make a difference in quality of life and financial stability. For more information on how to apply and for tips on making sure your claim is ready to be processed, visit the VA’s How to Apply page.
Written By Megan Hammons