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How can I get a free wheelchair?

Many Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applicants have severe issues with mobility and lack the ability to ambulate effectively. We have had many claimants ask, “How do I get a free wheelchair?”

Getting a wheelchair if you have SSDI benefits

Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI is offered to workers who have a severe mental or physical health condition which does not allow them to work for at least 12 continuous months. Claimants must also have sufficient work credits to receive Social Security Disability Insurance.

If you are getting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or if you have been approved for Social Security Disability Insurance you will receive Medicare within 24 months from the date of your disability. Although you may have to wait a bit for medical coverage, the good news is when you do get Medicare, if your doctor is willing to write a written order that you have a medical need for a wheelchair, than Medicare will help cover the costs.

How much will Medicare or Medicaid pay for the wheelchair?

According to Medicare they will “pay 80% of the Medicare-approved amount, after you have met the Part B deductible. You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount.”

To qualify for a wheelchair subsidized through Medicare you must meet the following requirements:

  1. You must have difficulty moving around in your home

  2. You must be unable to perform activities of daily living including dressing, getting out of bed, bathing or using the restroom and the use of a cane, crutch or walker is not sufficient.

  3. You must be able to safely operate a motorized device such as a scooter or wheelchair or you are supervised by someone is available to help you.

  4. Your home must be able to safely accommodate a wheelchair.

What if you have Medicaid instead of Medicare? Medicaid is an insurance program for qualifying low income individuals or disabled claimants who are receiving Supplemental Security Income. Medicaid also offers subsidized programs to help claimants rent or purchase a scooter or wheelchair.

Keep in mind, Medicare has instituted more stringent policies for identifying doctors and medical supply companies who are attempting to sell scooters to non-qualifying applicants.

How can I get a wheelchair for free without Medicare?

There are nonprofit agencies such as the Wheelchair Foundation that collect and donate wheelchairs to qualifying individuals, but many of these organizations focus on distribution to under-developed countries so this may not be an option for U.S. residents.

Your best option if you do not have health insurance may be to find a discounted wheelchair distributor. Simply by googling discounted wheelchairs I was able to find several companies who offer wheelchairs for as little as $200. Money is tight for many of the disabled but family members or friends may also be willing to donate money to you for this purpose. Churches also have programs that help the disabled and indigent.

Unfortunately, getting medical care is expensive, even for those who have insurance. Many of us pay extremely high premiums and find that if we need any type of routine medical care or medical supplies the deductibles are cost prohibitive. If you lack medical insurance medical care is even more difficult to obtain. Right now there are not too many great solutions.
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