What Are My VA Benefits for Multiple Sclerosis
Robert M. Baum, Prosthetics Chief Operating Officer, Office of Prosthetics and Clinical Logistics,
VA Central Office, Washington DC
Marsha L. Tarver, PhD, MSCoE Associate Director of Education
VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle
Veterans Health Administration Benefits for Veterans
Veterans may be eligible for a broad range of programs and services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These programs are based upon honorable discharge from active military service. Benefits include service connected (SC) benefits for Veterans who are disabled by an injury or disease that was incurred or aggravated during active military service and nonservice-connected benefits (nonSC). More information is found on the Veterans Health Administration website.
Service-Connected Benefits for Multiple Sclerosis (MS): MS is a presumptive condition and benefits are based on the presumption that the disability is service-connected (SC). Veterans with symptoms of MS in the military or within seven years after honorable discharge may be eligible for SC disability.
NonService-Connected Benefits for MS: Veterans diagnosed with MS after the presumptive period of seven years could be eligible for VA benefits under the nonservice- connected status. NonSC pension is an income-based benefit that is dependent on dates of service and type of disability.
SC and nonSC veterans are eligible for medical care for MS. This care includes disease modifying therapies, other medications, physical and occupational therapy, and other health care services and medical equipment.
Veterans with MS are eligible for many services from the Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service (PSAS) program. The basic eligibility for prosthetic items is enrollment in the VA system and proper medical justification. Service connection does not have a role in eligibility except for certain programs.
PSAS is an integrated delivery system designed to provide to eligible Veterans medically prescribed devices such as hearing aids, eyeglasses, speech and communication devices, home dialysis supplies, orthopedic braces/supports/footwear, wheelchairs, home respiratory aids, hospital beds, and other daily-living aids.
Home Improvement Grants
The Specially Adaptive Housing (SAH) grant is generally used to make a home wheelchair accessible and has a maximum of $63,780. The Special Housing Adaptations (SHA) grant is limited to $12,756 and is related to specific losses of hand mobility and blindness. The Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) grant is also available.
Mobility Benefits: It is common for many individuals who have MS to experience changes in their mobility and require different accommodations to help maintain mobility. A consult should be sent to Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services (PM&RS) or another appropriate interdisciplinary Mobility Clinic to reevaluate changes in mobility needs such as needing a power chair.
Driver Rehabilitation: Maintaining independence is important and the VA assists in getting Veterans with disabilities back on the road again. Services include driving assessments and training.
Modifications: SC Veterans qualify for an automobile adaptive equipment benefit up to $11,000 toward the purchase of an automobile or other conveyance. SC and nonSC Veterans can apply for other vehicle modifications like van lifts.
Clothing Allowance: SC Veterans may receive an annual monetary allowance for clothing that has been damaged by prosthetic or orthopedic appliances up to $677.
The typical medication prescription co-pay is $8 per prescription for a 30 day supply. Depending upon eligibility status co-pays can be waived. Return to top
Upon approval, SC Veterans in need of regular aid and attendance from another person can receive compensation for this benefit. Return to top
Eligible Veterans can receive a variety of mental health services including medications, cognitive testing, and other therapies. Return to top
The VA recognizes the importance of supporting caregivers and provides a temporary relief benefit for unpaid caregivers. The benefit includes respite care for up to 30 days in a calendar year. It is important to review these benefits with your local social work department.
In summary, the VA offers a variety of medical and support services and programs for people with MS. It is important to contact your local VA medical center social work department and review your eligibility for the benefits discussed. The VA provides Patient Advocates to help with this process and you can always contact one of the Veterans service organizations like Paralyzed Veterans of America, United Spinal and Disabled American Veterans for additional support. The VA is committed to work with Veterans and their families toward a better quality of life.
Last Updated: October 2009