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e-CFR data is current as of February 23, 2021

Title 38Chapter IPart 17 → Subject Group


Title 38: Pensions, Bonuses, and Veterans' Relief
PART 17—MEDICAL


Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) Program

Source: Sections 17.3100 through 17.3130 appear at 79 FR 71660, Dec. 3, 2014, unless otherwise noted.

§17.3100   Purpose and scope.

(a) Purpose. The purpose of §§17.3100 through 17.3130 is to implement the Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) program. The purpose of the HISA benefits program is to provide eligible beneficiaries monetary benefits for improvements and structural alterations to their homes when such improvements and structural alterations:

(1) Are necessary for the continuation of the provision of home health treatment of the beneficiary's disability; or

(2) Provide the beneficiary with access to the home or to essential lavatory and sanitary facilities.

(b) Scope. 38 CFR 17.3100 through 17.3130 apply only to the administration of the HISA benefits program, unless specifically provided otherwise.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 1717(a)(2))

§17.3101   Definitions.

For the purposes of the HISA benefits program (§§17.3100 through 17.3130):

Access to essential lavatory and sanitary facilities means having normal use of the standard structural components of those facilities.

Access to the home means the ability of the beneficiary to enter and exit the home and to maneuver within the home to at least one bedroom and essential lavatory and sanitary facilities.

Beneficiary means a veteran or servicemember who is awarded or who is eligible to receive HISA benefits.

Essential lavatory and sanitary facilities means one bathroom equipped with a toilet and a shower or bath, one kitchen, and one laundry facility.

HISA benefits means a monetary payment by VA to be used for improvements and structural alterations to the home of a beneficiary in accordance with §§17.3100 through 17.3130.

Home means the primary place where the beneficiary resides or, in the case of a servicemember, where the beneficiary intends to reside after discharge from service.

Improvement or structural alteration means a modification to a home or to an existing feature or fixture of a home, including repairs to or replacement of previously improved or altered features or fixtures.

Undergoing medical discharge means that a servicemember has been found unfit for duty due to a medical condition by their Service's Physical Evaluation Board, and a date of medical discharge has been issued.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 1717)

§17.3102   Eligibility.

The following individuals are eligible for HISA benefits:

(a) A veteran who is eligible for medical services under 38 U.S.C. 1710(a).

(b) A servicemember who is undergoing medical discharge from the Armed Forces for a permanent disability that was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty in the active military, naval, or air service. A servicemember would be eligible for HISA benefits while hospitalized or receiving outpatient medical care, services, or treatment for such permanent disability.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 1717)

§§17.3103-17.3104   [Reserved]

§17.3105   HISA benefit lifetime limits.

(a) General. Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, a beneficiary's HISA benefit is limited to the lifetime amount established in paragraph (b), (c), or (d) of this section, as applicable. A beneficiary may use HISA benefits to pay for more than one home alteration, until the beneficiary exhausts his or her lifetime benefit. HISA benefits approved by VA for use in a particular home alteration but unused by the beneficiary will remain available for future use.

(b) HISA benefits for a service-connected disability, a disability treated “as if” it were service connected, or for veterans with a service-connected disability rated 50 percent or more. (1) If a veteran:

(i) Applies for HISA benefits to address a service-connected disability;

(ii) Applies for HISA benefits to address a compensable disability treated “as if” it is a service-connected disability and for which the veteran is entitled to medical services under 38 U.S.C. 1710(a)(2)(C) (e.g., a disability acquired through treatment or vocational rehabilitation provided by VA); or

(iii) Applies for HISA benefits to address a nonservice-connected disability, if the beneficiary has a service-connected disability rated at least 50 percent disabling; and

(2) The veteran first applies for HISA benefits:

(i) Before May 5, 2010, then the veteran's lifetime HISA benefit limit is $4,100.

(ii) On or after May 5, 2010, then the veteran's lifetime HISA benefit limit is $6,800.

(c) HISA benefits for any other disabilities. If a veteran who is eligible for medical services under 38 U.S.C. 1710(a) applies for HISA benefits to address a disability that is not covered under paragraph (b) of this section, and the veteran first applies for HISA benefits:

(1) Before May 5, 2010, then the veteran's lifetime HISA benefit limit is $1,200; or

(2) On or after May 5, 2010, then the veteran's lifetime HISA benefit limit is $2,000.

(d) Servicemembers. If a servicemember is eligible for HISA benefits under §17.3102(b), and the servicemember first applies:

(1) Before May 5, 2010, then the servicemember's HISA benefit lifetime limit is $4,100; or

(2) On or after May 5, 2010, then the servicemember's HISA benefit lifetime limit is $6,800.

(e) Increases to HISA benefit lifetime limit. (1) A veteran who received HISA benefits under paragraph (c) of this section, and who subsequently qualifies for HISA benefits under paragraph (b)(1) of this section on or after May 5, 2010, due to a new award of disability compensation based on service connection or an increased disability rating, may apply for the increased lifetime benefit amount under paragraph (b)(2)(ii) of this section. The increased amount that will be available is $6,800 minus the amount of HISA benefits previously used by the beneficiary.

(2) A veteran who previously received HISA benefits as a servicemember is not eligible for a new lifetime HISA benefit amount based on his or her attaining veteran status, but the veteran may file a HISA claim for any HISA benefit amounts not used prior to discharge. The veteran's subsequent HISA award cannot exceed the applicable award amount under paragraphs (b), (c), or (e)(1) of this section, as applicable, minus the amount of HISA benefits awarded to the veteran while the veteran was a servicemember.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 1717)

§§17.3106-17.3119   [Reserved]

§17.3120   Application for HISA benefits.

(a) Application package. To apply for HISA benefits, the beneficiary must submit to VA a complete HISA benefits application package. A complete HISA benefits application package includes all of the following:

(1) A prescription, which VA may obtain on the beneficiary's behalf, written or approved by a VA physician that includes all of the following:

(i) The beneficiary's name, address, and telephone number.

(ii) Identification of the prescribed improvement or structural alteration.

(iii) The diagnosis and medical justification for the prescribed improvement or structural alteration.

(2) A completed and signed VA Form 10-0103, Veterans Application for Assistance in Acquiring Home Improvement and Structural Alterations, including, if desired, a request for advance payment of HISA benefits.

(3) A signed statement from the owner of the property authorizing the improvement or structural alteration to the property. The statement must be notarized if the beneficiary submitting the HISA benefits application is not the owner of the property.

(4) A written itemized estimate of costs for labor, materials, permits, and inspections for the home improvement or structural alteration.

(5) A color photograph of the unimproved area.

(b) Pre-award inspection of site. The beneficiary must allow VA to inspect the site of the proposed improvement or structural alteration. VA will not approve a HISA application unless VA has either conducted a pre-award inspection or has determined that no such inspection is needed. No later than 30 days after receiving a complete HISA benefits application, VA will conduct the inspection or determine that no inspection is required.

(c) Incomplete applications. If VA receives an incomplete HISA benefits application, VA will notify the applicant of the missing documentation. If the missing documentation is not received by VA within 30 days after such notification, VA will close the application and notify the applicant that the application has been closed. The closure notice will indicate that the application may be re-opened by submitting the requested documentation and updating any outdated information from the original application.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 1717)

(The Office of Management and Budget has approved the information collection requirements in this section under control number 2900-0188.)

§§17.3121-17.3124   [Reserved]

§17.3125   Approving HISA benefits applications.

(a) Approval of application. VA will approve the HISA benefits application if:

(1) The application is consistent with §§17.3100 through 17.3130, and

(2) VA determines that the proposed improvement or structural alteration is reasonably designed to address the needs of the beneficiary and is appropriate for the beneficiary's home, based on documentation provided and/or through a pre-award inspection of the home.

(b) Notification of approval. No later than 30 days after a beneficiary submits a complete application, VA will notify the beneficiary whether an application is approved. The notification will:

(1) State the total benefit amount authorized for the improvement or structural alteration.

(2) State the amount of any advance payment, if requested by the beneficiary, and state that the advance payment must be used for the improvements or structural alterations detailed in the application. The notification will also remind beneficiaries receiving advance payment of the obligation to submit the request for final payment upon completion of the construction.

(3) Provide the beneficiary with the notice of the right to appeal if they do not agree with VA's decision regarding the award.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 1717, 7104)

§17.3126   Disapproving HISA benefits applications.

VA will disapprove a HISA benefits application if the complete HISA benefits application does not meet all of the criteria outlined in §17.3125(a). Notification of the decision provided to the beneficiary will include the basis for the disapproval and notice to the beneficiary of his or her right to appeal.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 7104)

§§17.3127-17.3129   [Reserved]

§17.3130   HISA benefits payment procedures.

(a) Advance payment. If the beneficiary has requested advance payment of HISA benefits in VA Form 10-0103, as provided in §17.3120(a)(2), VA will make an advance payment to the beneficiary equal to 50 percent of the total benefit authorized for the improvement or structural alteration. VA will make the advance payment no later than 30 days after the HISA benefits application is approved. The beneficiary may receive only one advance payment for each approved HISA benefits application. A beneficiary must use the advance payment only for the improvement or structural alteration described in the application and must submit a final payment request, as defined in paragraph (b) of this section, to document such use after the construction is finished.

(b) Final payment request. No later than 60 days after the application is approved or, if VA approved an advance payment, no later than 60 days after the advance payment was made, the beneficiary must submit a complete final payment request to VA for payment. The complete final payment request must include:

(1) A statement by the beneficiary that the improvement or structural alteration, as indicated in the application, was completed;

(2) A color photograph of the completed work; and

(3) Documentation of the itemized actual costs for material, labor, permits, and inspections.

(c) VA action on final payment request. (1) Prior to approving and remitting the final payment, VA may inspect (within 30 days after receiving the final payment request) the beneficiary's home to determine that the improvement or structural alteration was completed as indicated in the application. No payment will be made if the improvement or structural alteration has not been completed.

(2) No later than 30 days after receipt of a complete final payment request, or, if VA conducts an inspection of the home under paragraph (c)(1) of this section, no later than 30 days after the inspection, VA will make a determination on the final payment request. If approved, VA will remit a final payment to the beneficiary equal to the lesser of:

(i) The approved HISA benefit amount, less the amount of any advance payment, or

(ii) The total actual cost of the improvement or structural alteration, less the amount of any advance payment.

(3) If the total actual cost of the improvement or structural alteration is less than the amount paid to the beneficiary as an advance payment, the beneficiary will reimburse VA for the difference between the advance payment and the total actual costs.

(4) After final payment is made on a HISA benefits application, the application file will be closed and no future HISA benefits will be furnished to the beneficiary for that application. If the total actual cost of the improvement or structural alteration is less than the approved HISA benefit, the balance of the approved amount will be credited to the beneficiary's remaining HISA benefits lifetime balance.

(d) Failure to submit a final payment request. (1) If an advance payment was made to the beneficiary, but the beneficiary fails to submit a final payment request in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section within 60 days of the date of the advance payment, VA will send a notice to remind the beneficiary of the obligation to submit the final payment request. If the beneficiary fails to submit the final payment request or to provide a suitable update and explanation of delay within 30 days of this notice, VA may take appropriate action to collect the amount of the advance payment from the beneficiary.

(2) If an advance payment was not made to the beneficiary and the beneficiary does not submit a final payment request in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section within 60 days of the date the application was approved, the application will be closed and no future HISA benefits will be furnished to the beneficiary for that application. Before closing the application, VA will send a notice to the beneficiary of the intent to close the file. If the beneficiary does not respond with a suitable update and explanation for the delay within 30 days, VA will close the file and provide a final notice of closure. The notice will include information about the right to appeal the decision.

(e) Failure to make approved improvements or structural alterations. If an inspection conducted pursuant to paragraph (c)(1) of this section reveals that the improvement or structural alteration has not been completed as indicated in the final payment request, VA may take appropriate action to collect the amount of the advance payment from the beneficiary. VA will not seek to collect the amount of the advance payment from the beneficiary if the beneficiary provides documentation indicating that the project was not completed due to the fault of the contractor, including bankruptcy or misconduct of the contractor.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 1717)

(The Office of Management and Budget has approved the information collection requirement in this section under control number 2900-0188.)

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