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However, one of the biggest problems for a lot of disabled and elderly people who vitally need these mobility aids, is they can be relatively expensive. But that doesn’t mean to say that you can’t benefit from these pieces of equipment, you simply need to know how to go about sourcing it.
If you’re unable to afford a mobility scooter or power chair, this guide will cover a range of programs that can help you to fund the cost of your mobility device, whether that be partially or even fully paid for.
What is the Cost of Purchasing a Mobility or Powerchair?
The cost of purchasing a mobility scooter or a powered wheelchair can vary dramatically. It very much depends on the size, model, and what features the device has.
Things such as the battery capacity, power, and steering can all play a part in how much you will pay for your mobility scooter. If you are looking for a standard scooter, you may expect to pay as much as $2500. That said, on the other end of the scale, you may be able to get a very basic model for as little as $500. So you can see that there is a significant variation.
You will find that a compact mobility scooter or those that are designed for traveling come at a much lower cost than a high end model with all the mod cons. But you should try not to worry as much about the cost and focus more on how you will use it and whether the scooter will meet your needs. Speaking to a local supplier will allow them to help you figure out exactly what you need and provide you with a realistic cost.
A powered wheelchair is different to a mobility scooter in many ways and offers those with less upper body strength or the ability to steer with a viable mobility option. However, since this is a different type of equipment, it also comes at a different cost.
Powerchairs are generally more expensive than a mobility scooter and prices can start from as much as $5000. At the top end of things, you might be looking around the $30,000 mark but once you find the right powered wheelchair, it will last you a long time.
Much like mobility scooters, there are a lot of things that will affect the cost of the wheelchair, with certain brands being more affordable than others. Additional features and programmable settings can skyrocket the price substantially.
How to Cover the Cost of Your Mobility Scooter or Powered Wheelchair?
SInce mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs can come at such eye-watering prices, it comes as no surprise that many people struggle to find the funds to cover them. But if you struggle with getting around, this can be an essential piece of equipment.
Fortunately, there are several ways that you can access funds and get the device you need.
Government Related Programs
The government runs a variety of medical programs and some of these may provide eligible participants with access to mobility equipment.
Medicare Part B
Medicare Part B is a smaller part of the overall Medicare program which aims to provide preventative care as well as services and support that are deemed medically necessary.
Medicare offers a program that can help those who need durable medical equipment and may pay up to 80% of the upfront cost of purchase. However, there are a few stipulations and applicants must be willing to undergo a face to face medical check as well as having a written doctor’s prescription. The following criteria must be met in order for you to qualify:
- Your doctor must express in writing that you have a medical condition that warrants the use of a powered vehicle.
- Your mobility is limited; but this must be combined with the remaining bullet points in this section.
- You have limited ability to move around your home.
- Your ability to perform daily tasks such as bathing and dressing are affected even when you make use of a cane or walker.
- The mobility scooter or wheelchair supplier and the doctor providing your written confirmation must be enrolled with Medicare.
- You have the physical and cognitive ability to safely operate the powered vehicle.
- You are able to use the scooter or power chair within the home without obstruction from things like doorways.
The way that Medicare will fund your equipment may differ depending on whether you need to rent or buy it. Further details can be found on the Medicare website.
Medicaid is a service that provides assistance to those on a low income but where you are in the country will determine the type of provisions you can access. It may sound similar to Medicare, which we have just discussed but rather than being an insurance program, this is an assistance program.
While the program is funded partially by the federal government, each state is required to create its own programs including what criteria you must meet to be eligible. Some examples of this are that applicants may need to fill in physical therapy forms and other states will cover nursing homes and care facilities. To understand what is available in your area, you should check with your state government.
There are some states that simply require you to be in receipt of supplementary income whereas others have far stricter criteria. For most people who have a qualifying medical condition that requires a specific type of powered vehicle, they will be given automatic eligibility. However, in any case,your application must be supported by a prescription from your doctor.
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
If you are a service-connected veteran then you may be able to receive funding towards a power chair or mobility scooter from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. This is based on two aspects of the overall program; services to improve independence and services to find suitable employment.
There are a variety of complex criteria that must be met and this means that not everyone will qualify for eligibility. There are some criteria that generally apply across the board which include:
- The loss of use, or total loss of at least one foot.
- The loss of use, or total loss of at least one hand.
- Deep burns that limit the use of extremities or that limit motion.
- Permanent damage to both eyes that affects vision.
However, generally speaking, if you qualify for admission to a Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) then it is likely that your disability will be treated. The criteria and available benefits vary by state, you can find a full list of links to your state here.
It is possible to use your private insurance program to gather the funds to cover the cost of your mobility scooter or powerchair. However, it is important to look at what your individual plan offers as every insurance plan will differ in terms of what is available.
Typically speaking, you will need to undergo a physical assessment with a doctor before qualifying for this type of insurance, although not all conditions will require this. In order to find out whether you will need to do this, the only way is to contact your insurance provider directly.
It is also important to source an equipment supplier that your insurance company will reimburse. You may be told by the supplier that your insurance will cover the cost but this may not always be the case. You should always check with your insurance provider before committing to anything.
Charities & Grants
Across the United States, there are a wealth of charitable organizations that provide assistance to people who struggle with disabilities or mobility issues. While not everyone will be eligible to access these grants, for many people, this is one of the best ways to obtain the equipment you require.
The American Outreach Foundation
The American Outreach Foundation donates power chairs to qualifying applicants within Coachella Valley, California. There are several ways to request a chair including directly telephoning the organization, sending an email, or filling in their online form.
Their main type of clientele is veterans and those on a low income and the organization has been serving the area since 2007. There are very lax eligibility criteria and anyone with a disability or impairment is free to request support. That said, you will need to provide written confirmation and a prescription from your doctor as well as information on your current financial situation.
The Bryon Riesch Paralysis Foundation
The Bryon Riesch Paralysis Foundation is working toward finding a cure for paralysis. They offer support to paralysed individuals and their families through various means. One of the most interesting programs they provide is access to a grant which can be used to cover the cost of a powered vehicle.
To qualify, you must have a neurological condition, with spinal cord injuries being the main focus. You must also be able to demonstrate that you are unable to financially afford to fund the chair yourself. It is also important to keep in mind that any individual cannot claim for a grant exceeding $10,000, although if your chair will cost more than this, you can request a partial contribution. In this case, you must be able to prove that you already have the remaining balance to pay for the item in full.
Pass It On Center – National AT Reuse Center
The Pass It On Center offers a wide range of resources including the reuse of assistive technology. Their mission is to provide assistance to people who are financially unable to fund their own equipment and may otherwise go without.
The service is offered on a national level and you can contact the support team via telephone or email to discuss your individual requirements.
Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA)
For those struggling with neuromuscular disease, MDA aims to provide individuals with access to equipment. They do this by referring you to various suppliers and organizations that are able to loan equipment as well as websites that contain a lot of helpful information as your source the wheelchair or scooter you need.
Wheel to Walk Foundation
Overseen by someone with a granddaughter affected by muscular dystrophy, the Wheel to Walk foundation is a passionate project that aims to provide equipment to those whose lives would be enhanced through its use. The foundation helps children with a variety of additional needs and will purchase and donate various pieces of equipment.
This may include things like adaptive car seats, bathing chairs, orthotics, and powered and manual wheelchairs. There is an application request portion of the website where parents and carers can fill in an online form to apply for anyone under the age of 20.
Wheelchair 4 Kids
Wheelchairs 4 kids is dedicated to funding mobility equipment for children with physical disabilities. They aim to provide various equipment including wheelchairs. But this is just one aspect of what they offer. The organization also provides assistance to children and their families to help them make the most out of their lives without their disability inhibiting them.
Their main focus where wheelchairs are concerned is to provide nearly new equipment, particularly to children who have outgrown their current equipment. Medicare typically doesn’t offer a replacement until the child is much older and this is a growing problem that sees many children using wheelchairs that are too small for them. To refer a child, you can access contact information here.
Multiple Sclerosis Foundation
The MS Foundation offers a variety of types of support for people suffering with multiple sclerosis and their families. One of the biggest benefits of working with the organization is that eligible participants may be able to receive full or partial funding towards various pieces of equipment including mobility devices through the assistive technology program.
The foundation also offers transport grants, a wellness grant, and a homecare grant among other things. To find out if you qualify or for more information, you can contact the foundation directly or use the simple online form.
Friends of Disabled Adults and Children
Every year, FODAC provides up to $9 million worth of assistive equipment to people struggling with disabilities. They provide a range of durable medical equipment including wheelchairs and receive no funding from Medicare or Medicaid. Their main focus is to provide temporary solutions to people who are in a difficult situation such as those waiting to receive other benefits or those who do not have existing insurance.
While meeting medically necessary needs is a main part of the project, the FODAC also aims to provide assistance to make life easier. They focus on improving the lives of their clients who need to travel longer distances to places of worship, school, medical appointments, and much more.
All of the equipment is donated and is offered on a first come first served basis. While they also offer repairs, it is important to note that these do come with a $25 fee.
LifeNets – Wheelchair Project
LifeNets offer wheelchairs to those in need and aim to match an individual with the right pieces of equipment for them. Everything is donated so there is no cost to the client. However, you should keep in mind that you will be responsible for collecting the equipment or arranging to cover postage fees if you would like it delivered to you.
You can browse available equipment on the website but you must have an account if you wish to apply. The organization covers the entire USA and has even delivered wheelchairs as far as South Africa!