Some service members have service-related disabilities or skin conditions that can cause damage to their clothing, or require special clothing. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers clothing allowances for eligible applicants who might need assistance replacing their clothing more frequently due to service-related issues. Veterans who are rated for a service-related disability where orthopedic or prosthetic appliances are necessary may receive a VA clothing allowance in 2020 if they apply by the deadline in July.
Let’s take a look at the various instances where a clothing allowance is possible, how much veterans might receive from the clothing allowance, and any other information that might offer assistance into your eligibility for VA assistance with prosthetics and clothing.
Some quick examples of service-connected disabilities that might cause wear and tear or irreparable damage to clothing are artificial limbs, a back brace, rigid knee braces, the use of a wheelchair, and skin creams and ointments that ruin clothing.
VA Clothing Allowance Medication List
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) offers the clothing allowance to veterans who have a service-connected disability who are prescribed orthopedic or prosthetic appliances that tend to wear out or damage their clothing. They also offer the clothing allowance for those with a skin condition that requires medication that does irreparable damage to the veteran’s outer garments. The allowance is used to replace or repair the veteran’s clothing and ease the financial burden of having to replace clothing more frequently out-of-pocket.
There are certain medications that are known to cause damage to clothing. Some of those medications listed are:
- Fungizone (Amphotericin B, topical)
- Mesalamine Suppository
- Para-aminoBenzoic Acid (Sunscreen SPF 30 Lotions)
- Povidone Iodine
- Silver Nitrate
- Tetracycline Ointment
- Fluorescein Ophthalmic
- Drysol 20% Solution
- Crotaminton 10% top cream
This list isn’t exhaustive. For a full list of known medications that may cause staining or damage to clothing, contact your local VA office or check out this PDF offered by the VA of medications that do and don’t cause any clothing issues so that you can make a more informed choice on the types of medications you are using.
VA Clothing Allowance Knee Brace
The VA also provides medically prescribed prosthetics and orthopedic and sensory aids to eligible veterans. Prosthetics are part of the VA Medical Benefits Package and veterans must be a part of the VA health care system.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “in order to be eligible for VA benefits and services, your discharge status must be a condition other than dishonorable, unless an exception is made by a VA Regional Office. You also must have a service-connected disability, injury or illness which results in the need for prosthetic aid.”
If you have a service-connected injury or disability that requires the use of a knee brace, and that knee brace causes your pants to wear out, you may be eligible for the annual clothing allowance. If you use a wheelchair, have a prosthetic limb, or anything of the like that causes damage to your outer garments, you may be eligible to receive the VA clothing allowance.
The VA specifies that the damage must be happening to outer garments, rather than undergarments. Outer garments are categorized as:
- Similar clothing garments
Clothing NOT covered by the VA disability clothing allowance are:
- Similar undergarment clothing
Clothing Allowance VA 2020 Eligibility
To find out if you are eligible for the VA disability clothing allowance, veterans must submit an application. The VA will pay one clothing allowance to the veteran who has a service-connected disability or a disability compensable under 38 U.S.C. 1151 and who meets the clinical eligibility requirements. To find out if you are eligible, submit your application with any required paperwork to your local VA hospital or clinic.
A veteran is eligible for one annual clothing allowance if a VA examination, or qualifying hospital or examination reports, states that the veteran has a service-connected disability who uses one qualifying orthopedic or prosthetic appliance, including, but not limited to, a wheelchair, which wears out or tears clothing.
A veteran is eligible for more than one annual clothing allowance if multiple types of garments are impacted by the skin condition, medication, or disability. The veteran is eligible for two annual payments if they use more than one qualifying orthopedic or prosthetic appliance, and/or skin medications for a skin condition that wear out, tear, or cause irreparable damage to clothing that can’t be removed with laundering or dry cleaning.
VA Clothing Allowance Amount
The VA clothing allowance is paid out to the veteran in a lump sum, typically, when entitlement is established before August 1st. An “anniversary” date must be established for the veteran to receive benefits.
In order to establish an anniversary date, the veteran will have received the service-connected disability prior to August 1st. They can then apply for the allowance with VA Form 10-8678, the Application for Annual Clothing Allowance, for that year’s benefit. Each benefit year runs from August 1st to July 31st. If the veteran establishes eligibility for the clothing allowance on or after August 1st, they aren’t entitled to any benefits during that benefits year. They will receive payment once the next benefit year starts.
An example offered by the Veteran Health Administration regarding the VA clothing allowance for knee brace is, “a veteran receives a service-connected rating for arthritis, for which the veteran is prescribed a rigid knee brace that causes irreparable damage to his or her pants on May 10, 2019. Since the anniversary date is August 1, 2019, the Veteran will have until July 31, 2019 to apply for a clothing allowance for benefit year 2018.
The VA clothing allowance amount for each eligible year is $817.48. Veterans can apply for one lump sum or a yearly payout which is determined by the type of disability compensation benefits they qualify for.
Applying for VA Annual Clothing Allowance Benefits
To apply for the VA annual clothing allowance, you’ll need to file a claim for disability compensation at this link. You’ll also need to fill out the Annual Clothing Allowance Form (VA Form 10-8678). And then bring that form to your prosthetic representative at the local VA medical office. It’s recommended not to email these forms to keep your information private.
To get the benefits, you’ll need to establish eligibility before August 1st. You might also receive more than one payment if you meet at least one of the following criteria:
- You have multiple skin medicines
- You have more than one prosthetic or orthopedic appliance
- Your medication or appliance affects more than one type of clothing
Payments for approved benefits are paid out between September 1st and October 31st.
Veterans with permanent disabilities, such as the loss of a limb, don’t need to apply for the clothing allowance every single year. Those who are using prosthetics or orthotics on a more temporary basis need to reapply every year by the specified deadlines.
If you are a veteran or know of a veteran who uses a prescribed prosthetic or orthopedic device or has a skin condition that requires medications that do irreparable harm and damage to the user’s clothing, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local VA office for assistance, as well as apply for the VA annual clothing allowance to ensure that you are taken care of financial as you deal with service-connected disabilities. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is here to ensure that veterans are taken care of in every way possible.