Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki today announced the publication of a final regulation in the Federal Register on clothing allowance that expands the eligibility criteria for Veterans with multiple prosthetic and orthopedic devices or who use prescription medications for service-connected skin conditions.
"Veterans whose service-connected disabilities require prosthetic appliances and skin medications deserve financial assistance for the extra clothing they have to purchase," said Shinseki. "A federal appeals court has ruled that Veterans may be entitled to more than one clothing allowance, and we are adjusting our regulations to make sure Veterans get the benefit of that decision."
The new regulation provides the criteria for more than one annual clothing allowance in situations where distinct garments are affected, and ensures Veterans are adequately compensated for any damage to clothing.
Veterans, who because of a service-connected disability, wear or use a prosthetic or orthopedic appliance that tends to wear out or tear clothing, are eligible for payment of an annual clothing allowance.
Examples of appliances include an artificial limb, rigid extremity brace, rigid spinal or cervical brace, wheelchair, crutches or other devices prescribed for the Veteran's service-connected disability.
Veterans who because of a service-connected skin condition use a medication that causes irreparable damage or stains to outer garments, are also eligible for payment of an annual clothing allowance.
The change makes VA's clothing allowance regulations consistent with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit's holding in the case of Sursely v. Peake.
The application deadline for an annual clothing allowance is August 1 of each year. Payments are administered during the months of September and October. Payment of more than one clothing allowance to qualifying Veterans will begin in 2012.
VA is in the process of revising VA Form 10-8678, Application For Annual Clothing Allowance, to accommodate application for more than one annual clothing allowance. Currently, the single annual clothing allowance is $716.
In the meantime, if a Veteran wishes to claim more than one allowance, the Veteran may continue to download and complete the current forms at http://www.va.gov/vaforms/medical/pdf/10-8678-fill%204-08.pdf and http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-4138-ARE.pdf, to indicate that he or she desires consideration for more than one annual clothing allowance. Veterans are also encouraged to visit VA's web portal eBenefits - Compensation for information on the clothing allowance and other VA benefits.
Veterans can also contact their nearest VA regional office at 1-800-827-1000 for more information about applying for more than one clothing allowance.