Notice of Funds Availability for Grants for Transportation of Veterans in Highly Rural Areas; Extension of Application Deadline
This notice extends the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) application deadline for funds available under the Grants for Transportation of Veterans in Highly Rural Areas program. VA published a Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) in the Federal Register on July 9, 2013 (78 FR 41195) to announce the availability of funds for applications beginning June 9, 2013 through September 9, 2013, 4 p.m. eastern standard time. The NOFA includes eligibility and scoring criteria for grants to assist veterans in highly rural areas through innovative transportation services to travel to VA and non-VA facilities and otherwise assist in providing transportation services in connection with the provision of VA medical care. To allow applicants more time to complete the application process, VA is extending the application deadline to midnight eastern standard time on February 3, 2014.
Criteria for a Catastrophically Disabled Determination for Purposes of Enrollment
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is amending its regulation concerning the manner in which VA determines that a veteran is catastrophically disabled for purposes of enrollment in priority group 4 for VA health care. As amended by this rulemaking, the regulation articulates the clinical criteria that identify an individual as catastrophically disabled, instead of using the corresponding International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT[supreg]) codes. The revisions ensure that the regulation is not out of date when new versions of those codes are published. The revisions also broaden some of the descriptions for a finding of catastrophic disability. Additionally, the final rule does not rely on the Folstein Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) as a criterion for determining whether a veteran meets the definition of catastrophically disabled, because we have determined that the MMSE is no longer a necessary clinical assessment tool.
Specially Adapted Housing Eligibility for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Beneficiaries
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is amending its adjudication regulation regarding specially adapted housing (SAH). The amendment authorizes automatic issuance of a certificate of eligibility for SAH to all veterans and active servicemembers with service- connected amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) rated totally disabling under the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities. The intent and effect of this amendment are to establish eligibility for SAH for all persons who have service-connected ALS. VA previously amended its Schedule for Rating Disabilities to assign a 100-percent disability evaluation for any veteran who has service-connected ALS based on the recognition that ALS is a rapidly progressive, totally debilitating, and irreversible motor neuron disease that results in muscle weakness leading to a wide range of serious disabilities, including problems with mobility. Because individuals with ALS quickly reach a level of total disability, the change was designed to eliminate the need to repeatedly reevaluate veterans suffering from ALS over a short period of time as symptoms worsen. Based on that same rationale, this amendment addresses the corresponding eligibility for SAH benefits for veterans and servicemembers with service-connected ALS. The overall SAH grant approval and oversight process is complex and lengthy, with many parts beyond VA's control. This rulemaking streamlines one aspect of the process within VA's control, by establishing SAH eligibility for all veterans or servicemembers with service-connected, totally disabling ALS. By shortening the first stage of the SAH process, this regulatory change will assist veterans and servicemembers suffering from ALS in adapting their homes before their condition becomes too debilitating. It will also lengthen the period during which ALS-afflicted veterans and servicemembers will be able to utilize the core SAH benefits. VA also makes non-substantive technical amendments for clarity.