Working with The VA

Home modifications by occupational therapist (OT) based on principles of universal design and accessibility.

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.

I just had an opportunity arise to work with the Veterans Administration (VA).  I don't have any experience working with the VA on home modifications nor do I have any knowledge of their programs.  I will be blogging here about my experience.

This is what I know so far:

The veteran has some significant mobility issues, I don't know what they are yet.  He lives with his son who wants the house fixed up but doesn't understand that his dad needs the house to be accessible so the son is pushing for things that aren't appropriate, per my colleague, Rick.

From what I understand the VA requires 3 bids, and the grant amount is maximum $80,000.

I do wonder where is the OT in all of this.  I suspect each builder puts together his idea of what the project should be and submits a bid and the lowest bid wins but whose to say?  That's just my guess.

Anyone out there work with the VA?

I know some guys who have worked with the VA quite a bit so I'll be calling them today to get their take on this.  Any suggestions or assistance would be much appreciated.

By the way, this is D.V.A, the mascot for this project.   I think her name was actually diva but for this it is D.V.A.

1 comment:

Karen Koch said...

So these are the responses I've gotten from a post on this matter:
Let me save you a bunch of hassle. Working with the VA is a pain. Unless you have all the funds to complete the job let it go. They pay once All the work is complete. That’s been my experience.

From Robert:

For most veterans to get the grants they have to have no other resources. With that said your draw schedule means nothing because the VA inspects the final project and then pays. These are the facts as I remember them. That’s probably why I don’t VA work. It’s a no win situation for everyone.
Good luck

Jan 3 at 4:07 PM
There are several VA home modification programs but I believe you are referring to the SAH grant. I'm doing a job for the VA right now under the SAH grant program. Our project is a small addition and a bathroom remodel for a veteran with ALS. It is without a doubt, the most frustrating thing I've ever undertaken. It took almost a year to complete all of the paperwork and secure all of the approvals. I don't know how many hours of work it took just to get to the point where could start construction.

As for payment, they allow up to 4 draws. They pay each draw after a pre-determined point is reached and after an inspection is completed so you are financing all of the work up until you get each draw.

In regards to cookie cutter vs individualized solutions, the VA requires adherence to their standards. You must submit a waiver request for any area in which you will vary from a VA standard. I think it's highly important to help out disabled veterans but you should have full understanding of the process.

From Chris:

I have been doing VA grant home modifications for years. The SAH grant is administered through the VA regional office in your area. It currently pays up to $77,307. Veterans have to have a service connected disability that meets the standards on their list although if you served during certain time periods (agent orange) it is assumed that your disability is service connected. There are up to four draws allowed and there are no down payments. You will have to meet the minimum property requirements ((MPR) for every aspect of the project unless you get a waiver. I have done about a dozen of these projects and most have gone smoothly. A lot depends on the VA agent handling the job. The good ones tend to get promoted, leaving the less efficient ones in place.

The HISA grant is administered through the prosthetics department at the VA hospital. All veterans qualify, but non service connected veterans revive $2,000 while service connected veterans receive $6,800. The payment is made to the veteran who then pays the contractor. You can get a 50% deposit but only if you ask for it.

Here in VA there is a state grant that pays an additional $4,000. I have done several home modifications that involved funds from all three grants, all with different requirements and timetables. Although the paperwork is daunting, the ability to assist our brave veterans makes it worthwhile in my mind. I would be happy to answer any specific questions and help any way that I can.