Like with disability compensation, cost-of-living allowance, and military pay, the Veterans’ Administration provides a clothing allowance for vets who require special clothing because of a service-connected disability. Unfortunately, not that many veterans who have offered military service are aware of this benefit and it goes unused by many who qualify.
In order to qualify for the VA annual clothing allowance, you must have a disability that exists because of your time in military service. It’s offered to disabled veterans who must use a prosthetic, orthopedic device or require skin medication to damaged clothing. Vets must show that their disability causes excess wear and tear on their clothing.
The clothing allowance covers certain types of clothing worn out by devices or that are damaged by creams or medications related to the vet’s disability.
Appliances and devices that most often contribute to wear and tear include artificial limbs, wheelchairs, crutches, and rigid braces.
Types of clothing covered by the Clothing Allowance:
- Shirts and blouses
- Pants and shorts
- Clothing items that are permanently damaged by appliances and/or medications that are used because of a service-connected disability
The allowance does not include shoes, hats, scarves, underwear, or socks.
The clothing allowance offered to veterans was increased to $742 per year in 2013. The money is intended to be used to replace clothing that is worn or torn by prosthetic or orthopedic devices or damaged because of the use of medications used to treat skin conditions.
Vets with more than one condition can receive double benefits. For instance, if you wear a prosthetic leg and have a skin condition that required medication that damages clothing, you would be eligible for $1506 per year in clothing allowance benefits. More than two clothing allowance benefits to those who qualify might be possible but are determined on a case-by-case basis.
It should be noted, according to VA rules, damages that qualify you for the clothing allowance does not include removable stains throughout regular laundering or dry cleaning. When you apply, you’ll need to demonstrate why you believe you are eligible for the benefit and show that frequent replacement of clothing is needed because of your service-related disability.
Applying for the VA clothing allowance is easy. You just need to visit a VA hospital or clinicor you can mail an application form to the VA medical center closest to you. First-time applicants are encouraged to complete an application inperson at the nearest VA clinic to their home. This is an annual benefit and it requires you to apply each year by August 1. Money is distributed by October 31 each year.
It’s also important to gather all paperwork related to your disability and your need for the clothing allowance and submit any applicable information that can help to prove your claim. You’ll need to include the clothing item or items that are damaged because of your disability, as well as information about the disability when you received the disability, the VA facility that issued your device or medication, and how the situation impacts your life. Then you must sign and certify the accuracy of the information you submit.
Clothing Designed for Disabled Veterans
Depending on your disability, you might be able to purchase clothing designed specifically to accommodate your disability.
Designers sometimes take into account the challenges faced by those with disabilities when creating clothing. For instance, they might struggle to fasten zippers or buttons or get their pants on properly because of their need to use a wheelchair or prosthetic device. Some fashion design students have even worked directly with veterans to identify the daily challenges related to their wardrobe and design clothing that eases these challenges.
Veterans are free to purchase clothes from any retailer they choose. The clothing items must meet the requirements listed in VA rules concerning the alliance but they need not be any specific price point or from any specific retailer or designer. Just keep in mind if the items you purchase are more expensive than the standard reimbursement amount you will still only receive that amount of money through the allowance.
Is the VA Clothing Allowance Different than the Military Clothing Allowance?
Yes. Both active duty military members and veterans with service-related disabilities that affect their clothing are eligible for clothing allowance but these allowances are different.
The military clothing allowance is intended to be used for a military member’s uniform and other clothing costs, including initial uniform needs, uniform replacement, extra clothing, and clothing maintenance. The military allowance is several hundred dollars less than the VA clothing allowance—at least initially. The VA allowance also allows for freedom in shopping, whereas the military allowance must be used toward basic or standard military issue clothing and accessories.
What Happens if the VA Denies My Request for the Annual Clothing Allowance?
Like all VA benefits, veterans have the right to appeal a denial of a claim. You should speak to someone familiar with the application and appeals process and be prepared to share all of the information connected with your disability and your reason for applying for the clothing allowance.
Unfortunately, there are instances in which the veteran’s clothing needs are not covered, at least initially, despite their disability being directly connected to their service. For instance, shoes and socks are not covered in the clothing allowance, but a veteran’s prosthetic leg or foot could easily cause excess wear and tear.
Your best bet if you are denied benefits in a situation like this is to appeal your case and work with someone experienced with benefit denial appeals. If you are submitting an application for just one clothing allowance, there’s a chance your request might be considered for other reasons. For instance, perhaps your prosthetic foot or leg not only creates wear and tear on socks and shoes, it also causes trousers to wear out quickly around the hem. In this case, you might qualify for the allowance based on the wear and tear of your trousers, even if you do not replace them as frequently as you do socks and shoes.