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Sen. Hassan joins Sens. Collins & Manchin to introduce adaptive vehicles for veterans legislation

The average cost of a new adaptive vehicle that disabled veterans need to drive safely and maintain their independence ranges from $40,000 to $65,000

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) in introducing bipartisan legislation that would reduce the financial burden for severely disabled veterans who require special adaptive equipment to drive a motor vehicle.  The Advancing Uniform Transportation Opportunities (AUTO) for Veterans Act would make these veterans eligible to receive a grant to help purchase a new adaptive vehicle once every ten years, helping them to drive safely and maintain their independence.  Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives Dan Meuser (R-PA) and  David Trone (D-MD).

“Adaptive vehicles can be life-changing for many people, helping them to live independently and be a part of their communities. This bipartisan bill will help veterans with severe service-connected disabilities have continuing access to safe vehicles that work for them,” said Senator Hassan. “As a new member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I will continue to work across the aisle to ensure that all veterans have the support that they need to thrive when they come home.”

The VA is currently authorized to provide eligible veterans with a one-time grant of approximately $21,400 to be used to purchase a new or used automobile and necessary adaptive equipment, such as specialized pedals or switches. The grant is often used together with the VA Special Adaptive Equipment Grants, which help veterans purchase adaptive equipment, such as powered lifts, for an existing automobile or van to make it safe for a veteran’s use.  The average cost to replace modified vehicles ranges from $20,000 to $80,000 when the vehicle is new and $21,000 to $35,000 when the vehicle is used.

Although veterans can receive multiple Special Adaptive Equipment Grants over the course of their lives, they are limited to a single grant to purchase a vehicle.  The current limitation fails to take into account that a disabled veteran will need more than one vehicle in his or her lifetime.  According to the Department of Transportation, the average useful life of a vehicle is 11.8 years, and a vehicle that has been modified structurally tends to have a shorter useful life.