Prosthetics and Sensory Aids for Veterans

If you receive VA benefits from Veterans Affairs, then you may qualify for medical equipment and aid through the Prosthetic and Sensory Aid Services (PSAS) program.

The goal of PSAS is to help veterans gain independence, improve their health and live with minimal assistance from others. With help from the VA rehabilitation and prosthetic program, you may improve your quality of life.

Veterans benefits may give you access to free or discounted medical equipment to help you regain your mobility. This includes artificial limbs, wheelchairs, devices for visual or auditory impairment and more. You may even qualify for a guide dog or service dog. Learn more about the services available below.

What types of prosthetics and sensory aids are available through PSAS?

You may qualify for a prosthetic leg or another type of prosthetic limb if you are an amputee and receive VA care. Other equipment and aid offered by the program includes:

  • Home respiratory therapy, including oxygen therapy, airway management and tracheostomy care.
  • Orthopedic braces.
  • Therapeutic shoes.
  • Wheelchairs.
  • Powered mobility devices, such as mobility scooters and mobility stairlifts.
  • Crutches, canes and walkers.
  • Optical and electronic devices for visual impairment. 
  • Hearing aids.
  • Guide or service dogs.

Prosthetics

When you think of prosthesis, you may be thinking of a prosthetic hand, prosthetic foot or another artificial limb. However, a prosthesis is defined as any device that replaces or aids a body part or function. This means that replacements for joints, eyes and even teeth all count as prostheses. 

Some prostheses are removable, while others are implanted and cannot be removed without surgery. Prostheses are medically prescribed and are included in your medical benefits package. If you need one, then your VA doctor will prescribe it.

Home Respiratory Therapy

A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is designed to improve your breathing while you sleep and push air into your lungs if you stop breathing. You may be worried about the average CPAP machine cost if you suffer from sleep apnea. Fortunately, these machines are covered under your VA benefits. However, in order to receive home respiratory care from specialists, your medical needs must be complex or you must have a chronic disease.  

According to the VA annual benefits report of 2014, sleep apnea has become one of the most common service-related disabilities. In fact, some researchers claim that a veteran is four times more likely to have sleep apnea than the average American. 

CPAP therapy is not the only form of home respiratory therapy. Many patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) receive home care and special equipment. 

Guide and Service Dogs

Service dogs for veterans are trained to assist with day-to-day activities, protect owners from harm and complete specific tasks. For instance, they may be trained to pick up various items, push a wheelchair, remind an owner to take certain medications or alert people that a seizure is about to happen.

These dogs may also be trained to help veterans suffering from mental health conditions, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In this case, a dog may calm or comfort a veteran undergoing an anxiety attack. 

Guide dogs have the same rights as service dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), although they are mainly trained to guide and direct their owners. Service dogs must have formal training in order for a veteran to receive benefits for his or her dog. International assistance dog agencies will also provide dogs and training free of charge to veterans who qualify for service dog benefits.

VA benefits cover veterinary care and equipment provided by the PSAS program. Necessary equipment may include harnesses, collars, vests and leashes. Generally, the VA does not cover monetary benefits for grooming, food and certain other pet expenses. 

A service dog for a veteran may dramatically improve a person’s quality of life. In order to qualify for service dog benefits, a veteran’s medical records must be reviewed by a clinician. The clinician will then determine whether a service dog is the best solution or if another form of treatment would be more appropriate. 

Hearing Aids and Optical Devices

Many veterans with VA care will qualify for hearing aids from the VA, meaning they do not have to pay for them out-of-pocket. Hearing loss among veterans is common, as many of them were exposed to continuous loud noises during their time in service.

The PSAS program may help you with hearing loss and other ear-related disorders such as tinnitus by approving you for a hearing aid, a cochlear implant or other important devices. In order to become eligible for VA hearing aids, make an appointment with the Audiology and Speech Pathology clinic closest to you. A specialist will evaluate your hearing loss or other hearing issues and may determine which type of device will help you the most. 

Once you are approved for hearing aids, you will receive them at no cost. You may also receive replacement batteries for these devices when your current batteries die. You may order new batteries online, by phone or by mail. Note that you may only order new batteries online through eBenefits, not through My HealtheVet. 

Other Benefits of the PSAS Program

In addition to supplementing veterans health insurance, the PSAS program has a clothing allowance program, an Automobile Adaptive Equipment (AAE) program and a Home Improvement and Structural Alterations (HISA) program. 

The clothing allowance program provides qualified veterans with new clothing if their original clothing becomes damaged by medical equipment or skin medication. Veterans may receive new shirts, blouses, pants, skirts, shorts and similar clothing items each year. Some clothing items, such as shoes, hats, scarves and socks, do not qualify for replacements.

The AAE program is another form of VA care designed to improve the everyday lives of veterans. Through this program, qualifying veterans may have equipment installed in their cars that helps them enter, operate and exit cars. This equipment might be a platform that lifts and lowers wheelchairs or left foot gas pedals. It also includes the modification of car roofs and floors, so that necessary medical equipment will fit in the vehicle. 

The HISA program is another form of Veterans Affairs benefits that provides veterans with grants to make their homes more accessible. For instance, a veteran may need to widen the doorways in his or her home to accommodate wheelchairs. He or she may also need special appliances in the bathroom, such as a shower chair or grab bar.