For Veterans Living with ALS
Thanks to your service, you should qualify for VA benefits that will help pay for the majority of your expenses associated with ALS.
These benefits are available because the VA listed ALS as a service-connected disease in 2008. Military veterans—particularly of the Gulf War—are about twice as likely as civilians to be diagnosed with ALS.
Am I eligible?
If you have been diagnosed with ALS, served in the U.S. military for 90 or more consecutive days of active duty, and have been honorably discharged, you will likely be eligible for special service-connected benefits.
What are service-connected benefits?
If you qualify, you can receive numerous benefits through the VA, including:
- Access to VA multidisciplinary ALS clinics
- Durable medical equipment
- Disability compensation
- A specially-adapted housing grant
- An automobile grant
ALS Clinics at the VA
In many areas of the country, VA medical centers and outpatient clinics provide veterans with access to medical care. A growing number of VA medical centers have ALS clinics with teams of ALS specialists who provide coordinated care for veterans. Attending one of these clinics can extend your life and improve your quality of life.
How do I apply?
If you have been diagnosed with ALS and have 90 days of consecutive active duty, you should be eligible for service-connected benefits. But you cannot make an appointment with ALS clinics at the VA until you have been approved for service-connected benefits and enrolled in the VA system.
- To apply for your service-connected benefits, we strongly recommend reaching out to a veterans service organization like the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) or Disabled American Veterans (DAV). Navigating the VA system on your own can be a confusing and frustrating process. PVA or DAV will become your advocate—they will explain your benefits, answer questions, give you tips, help you with paperwork, and expedite your application, which may take 90 days or so to get approved.
- While waiting for your benefits, you should get connected with your local ALS organization. You can receive support from the VA and your local ALS organization at the same time.
- Ask for recommendations for an ALS clinic outside the VA, make an appointment, and begin attending the clinic. Follow the team’s recommendations and do not stop attending until you fully transition to the VA. Search Your ALS Clinics Directory for an ALS clinic near you.
- When the VA accepts your application and approves your service-connected benefits, you will automatically get an appointment within 30 days. You will also be assigned a social worker/case manager and primary doctor.
Can I receive VA benefits and Medicare benefits?
Yes. In addition to your VA benefits, you can also qualify for and receive Medicare benefits—as long as you are eligible. Medicare can help you pay for services outside the VA system that the VA might not cover, such as visits to non-VA ALS clinics or other medical professionals. If you don’t qualify for Medicare, you will still receive full coverage within the VA system.
Can I receive VA benefits and Medicaid benefits?
When you are diagnosed with ALS and start receiving monetary disability compensation from the VA, you will no longer qualify for Medicaid benefits.
Obi: An Independent Eating Device
Obi is a robotic feeding device that allows people with limited hand and arm strength and mobility to feed themselves. Obi can be controlled by your hand, head, foot, or breath. Simple controls allow you to choose what you want to eat, when you want to eat it. Obi should be covered by the VA. Learn more.
Speech-Generating Device and Environmental Control
The autonoME Residential is a 12" tablet that allows you to turn lights off and on, adjust your thermostat, control your television, browse the internet, send text messages, and much more. You can control its user-friendly interface with your hands, eyes, head, voice, or breath (sip and puff). This device should be covered by the VA. Learn more.
What else should I know?
Most of the information on this website will also pertain to you as a veteran. We encourage you to explore Your ALS Guide to learn about ALS, self care, medical decisions, medical equipment, and more. If you have been diagnosed in the past few months, start with our Newly Diagnosed Guide. If your diagnosis was less recent, you can start on our People Living with ALS page.