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Wilmington VA Medical Center

Home Improvement & Structural Alterations (HISA)

Image of a wheelchair going up a rampAbout HISA

Veterans may be eligible for HISA if the improvement is determined to be necessary to ensure the continuation of treatment, or provide access to the home, or to essential lavatory and sanitary facilities. Amounts available can not exceed $6,800 when required for service connected disabilities or for veterans rated 50 percent or more service connected, and $2,000 when required for other eligible veterans.

Applying for a HISA Grant

  • Complete the HISA application, the Veteran's obligation statement and the Property Owner's permission statement.
  • If the Veteran is a renter, than the property owner must give written permission to have the project done on his/her property.
  • The contractor must submit a drawing with the bid that clearly shows all the dimensions.
  • Get two estimates for construction of the project requested. All estimates must be independent, verifiable bids from contractors who have inspected your residence. Original bids must contain current telephone numbers for verification by VA staff. The estimates must include the following:
    • Name, address, phone number and federal tax identification or social security number of the company or individual submitting the bid.
    • An itemized listing of all material needed to do the work.
    • The charge for each item to be used and the total cost for materials needed to complete the project.
    • Separate listing of all labor charges.
    • Total cost for the entire project. (Material, labor, taxes and fees required)
  • Return this information to the Prosthetic Treatment Center.
  • Do NOT start any work until you get an approval letter from the VA. The letter will clearly state when you may begin work.

What happens next?

The Prosthetic Department will then take your completed application, bids and medical history to the HISA Committee. The Committee will review your request and either approve or disapprove it.

After your application for a HISA grant is approved, you will receive a letter from the Prosthetic Department telling you that you may begin the work. When the work has been completed to your satisfaction, sign the letter and return it to us so that payment can be issued. Please ensure that your contractor registers in the Central Contractor Registration, completes a Form W-9, and completes an ACH Vendor/Miscellaneous Enrollment Form for payment purposes. Remember, the VA reserves the right to inspect the job at any phase.


Specifications for Wheelchair Ramps:

  • The pitch of the ramp must be a minimum of 1:12 - for every one inch of rise, there must be 12 inches of run.
  • The minimum width of a ramp is 36 inches.
  • Handrails must be provided on both sides of the ramp. The top of the handrail should be mounted between 30" to 34" above the surface of the ramp. Ends of the handrails shall be either rounded or returned smoothly to the floor, wall or post and should extend a minimum of 12" beyond the ramp.
  • The ramp should be treated for weather-resistance. The ramp should have non-slip material, but not so rough as to make wheelchair travel difficult or unpleasant.
  • The ramp must have a level surface of at least 5' x 5' at the door with at least 24" past the latch side of the door to allow for entry. A landing is required every 30 feet of run to allow the wheelchair bound individual to rest.

Specifications for Wheelchair Accessible Shower:

The minimum size of any handicap shower is 36" x 36". It should not have a curb to impede wheelchair access. The shower floor and bathroom floor should be of a non-slip material. Thermostatic controls must be installed to protect the user from sudden changes in water temperature. All controls must be easily accessible to the shower occupant. The shower must be equipped with a hand held showerhead and flexible hose and stored within easy reach of the shower occupant. The shower must have stainless steel wrap-around grab bars.


Handicap Accessible Bathroom:

A floor plan view is very helpful when we are reviewing your application for modifying a bathroom. The door to the bathroom must be a minimum of 36" wide. The bathroom should be on the same level as living and sleeping areas. Thoroughly list all dimensions of the bathroom to allow the VA to determine the distance between fixtures for wheelchair accessibility.


Alterations Considered for Blind Veterans

  • Hand rails on outside steps and non-skid surfaces for steps
  • Improved lighting
  • Repair of broken or worn stairs
  • Sliding doors for cabinets
  • Porch cover or awning
  • Smoke alarm/fire detection system
  • Grab bars for bathroom
  • Other - as the HISA Committee approves

You CAN use HISA to...

  • Build a wooden or concrete ramp to gain access to your home
  • Widen doorways for wheelchair access to your bedroom or bathroom
  • Lower your kitchen or bathroom counters or sinks
  • Improve the sidewalk or driveway close to your house so you can use your wheelchair
  • Install railings deemed necessary to help you walk safely
  • Install a roll-in shower

You can NOT use HISA to...

  • Build a porch or deck
  • Build a path to a barn or workshop
  • Widen your driveway in excess of 6' x 6' to accommodate wheelchair and van lifts
  • Install a spa, hot tub or Jacuzzi
  • Install a home security system
  • Replace your roof; repair a furnace or any other routine home maintenance
  • Remodel your existing bathroom (unless as stated above)
  • Build a new bathroom