Funding for Work
For veterans with disabilities
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
The VA is the largest single medical care system in the United States and it is one of the largest purchasers of assistive technology for people with disabilities. Access to eligibility and benefits information is provided here. Read more.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a federal agency that provides income supplements and medical benefits to former military personnel and their families.
Visit the VA website's current benefits page for the booklet, Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents.
Eligibility can be complicated at the VA. In general, eligibility is determined on an individual basis depending on a veteran's service, income, level of VA pension or disability compensation, whether or not the disability is "service-connected," and depending on the type of device or service needed.
VA health care is available to all veterans (with honorable or general discharges who have served at least 180 days of active duty) for at least two years after serving in a combat zone (this includes participants in the Global War on Terror). And veterans receiving VA care for any condition may receive VA devices and equipment through the VA's Prosthetics and Sensory Aids program. VA care, however, is not considered an "entitlement." These are services provided to veterans as funding allows and veterans are sorted into categories based on their priority for receiving service. Veterans must be annually enrolled in the VA healthcare system to receive any kind of care.
VA benefits information hotlines:
(800) 827-1000, includes vocational rehabilitation, pension, health*
(888) GI-BILL-1 (888-442-4551) for education benefits
(800) 829-4833 TDD, information for all benefits
* This is a good resource for all but residents of southeastern Massachusetts (Nantucket, Barnstable, Bristol and Dukes counties). There's "a bug in the system"; the phone company connects these residents to the Boston VA Regional Office even though the Veterans Benefits Administration serves them through the Providence Road Island Regional Office only. Southeastern Massachusetts residents may get help by calling the Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services representative in RI at 401-223-3685 (Dick Early).
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Division (VR&E)
This division helps veterans with "service-connected" disabilities prepare for and find jobs within their physical, mental, and emotional capabilities and may pay for needed assistive technology devices and services. Read more.
The VA's VR&E division helps veterans with "service-connected" disabilities prepare for and find jobs within their physical, mental, and emotional capabilities. Veterans with disabilities so severe they cannot work may be eligible for Independent Living services (see Funding AT for Home). Both programs may pay for needed assistive technology devices and services.
VR&E services include counseling, training, education, and job placement assistance and are provided through the development of an individualized vocational plan. This is the plan that outlines what services the VA will provide "including any needed AT" to help the veteran achieve employment goals. There are different types of plans and they are created together by the veteran and the VR&E counselor.
The length of a rehabilitation program varies (up to 48 months), and may include 2 and 4 year degree programs. The services are authorized under the Chapter 31 of the GI bill.
To be eligible for VR&E, veterans must have a "service-connected" disability that is rated at least 20 percent with an "employment handicap," or rated 10 percent with a "serious employment handicap," and they must have a general or honorable discharge from the military. Service members not yet discharged may apply if they are pending medical separation from active duty and if their disabilities are reasonably expected to rate at least 20 percent following their discharge.
Veterans must complete a rehabilitation program within 12 years from their separation from military services or 12 years from the date the VA notifies them that they have a service-connected disability for which they can be compensated.
Veterans with disabilities who are not eligible for VA vocational rehabilitation may be eligible to receive services through the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission's VR program.
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Division
VA Regional Office
JFK Federal Building
Boston, MA 02203
Acting Director Peter McPhail
Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service
The VA's Prosthetics and Sensory Aids program may buy AT devices for veterans receiving VA care for any condition.
Read about it (at the Funding for Home page).
Hearing Aids and Eyeglasses
Certain veterans are eligible for hearing aids, audiology tests, eyeglasses and eye exams through the VA. Read about it (at the Funding for Home page).
Services for Blind Veterans
Various AT devices and services may be available to blind veterans enrolled in the VA health care system. Read about it (at the Funding for Home page).