There has been much discussion in recent years about the use of service dogs for disabled veterans. The issues have ranged from the need for service dogs to even allowing service dogs into Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities. The VA will finally put out a new rule defining the circumstances under which VA- subsidized assistive dogs, such as service and guide dogs, would be awarded. The regulation will also define what the VA would fund in awarding a service dog.
The VA’s assistive dog benefit will have the VA paying for veterinary treatment as well as for the dog’s hardware, which includes repair of broken hardware. Additionally, the VA cover the costs of the initial travel costs for the veterans in order to obtain the dog.
The extended benefit would only apply if a VA clinician found the service dog would “provide optimal assistance” where standard rehabilitative techniques and technological devices cannot. The VA will also demand the service dog preserve its skills as a service dog and continue to function in that role in order to continue to fund the veterans’ dogs. Finally, only certain veterans will qualify for the service dog, and those veterans must suffer from:
- extensive mobility impairments;
- hearing impairments; and/or
- visual impairments.
This rule provides the VA to regulate the need for a service dog by distinguishing between the benefits of the dog and the benefits of “assistive technology.” The decision on whether or not to award the service dog will now rest on medical judgment and no longer on cost.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.