A wheelchair ramp can be a life-changing structural adaptation that helps individuals get into their home, but they are very expensive.
There are several ways to get a free wheelchair ramp, and we're going to go through each one.
Here's how you can get a free wheelchair ramp.
Will Medicare Pay For A Wheelchair Ramp?
At first glance, it might seem like Medicare can help pay for the cost of a wheelchair ramp. Wheelchair ramps sound like they might be durable medical equipment which is something covered under Medicare Part B. However, this isn't the case.
Medicare will not pay for a wheelchair ramp under any circumstance. Even if your doctor orders a prescription wheelchair ramp that is deemed medically necessary, Medicare will not cover the cost of this mobility assistance device.
This is because Medicare never covers the cost of home improvements. There is some give-and-take with this policy especially in terms of lifts to help individuals get out of bed and similar devices, but wheelchair ramps fall squarely outside what Medicare covers.
What About Medicare Advantage?
Medicare Advantage is an extended policy that you can add on top of original Medicare. This might help with covering the cost of a wheelchair ramp.
Medicare Advantage is a private insurance policy that provides additional coverage for things outside the scope of Medicare. This can include a wheelchair ramp, but it's going to depend on the specifics of your Medicare Advantage policy.
You're going to have to talk with the provider of your Medicare Advantage policy in order to get more details about whether it covers the cost of a wheelchair ramp.
Does Medicaid Pay for Wheelchair Ramps?
Medicaid is a little more interesting when it comes to paying for the cost of wheelchair ramps.
The first thing to notice is that Medicaid almost always follows the policies laid out for Medicare. This usually means that Medicaid will not pay for the cost of a wheelchair ramp.
However, some individuals have claimed that they've been able to get Medicare to pay for the cost of a wheelchair ramp when it's medically necessary. This is outside the standard policy, though Medicare occasionally makes the rare exception to its written rules.
Medicaid is also administered on a state-by-state basis. This means your state might have different rules for what devices are covered in what devices are not.
Medicaid also has a special program known as Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waivers. These waivers can be used to cover the cost of at home treatments. Medicaid can cover medically necessary wheelchair ramps especially in cases when it is determined that that wheelchair ramp will prevent an individual from needing extended hospital or treatment facility assistance.
From the perspective of Medicaid, it's more affordable to install a wheelchair ramp in someone's home than it is to pay for the cost of an extended Hospital stay.
Free Wheelchair Ramps for Veterans: 4 Programs To Look Into
1. Specialty Adapted Housing (SHA) grant
The Specialty Adapted Housing (SHA) grant is administered by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
This program gives veterans who sustain a permanent disability during service. This grant covers up to 50% of the cost of improvements that help the veteran adapt their permanent residence. The current total lifetime grant amount is over $100,000.
2. Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) Grant
The Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) grant will help veterans cover the cost of a wheelchair ramp.
This grant is for veterans who were injured during service and veterans who became dsiabled after their service ended.
This grant is designed to help veterans get around their homes using structural adaptations. There are several different aspects of this policy, but one of the main points is that the grant can be used to help veterans enter and exit their home which can include a wheelchair ramp.
3. Operation Ramp It Up
Operation Ramp It Up is a non-profit that operates across the United States. They help veterans install wheelchair ramps in their homes totally free of cost.
In order to qualify for this program, a veteran must first exhaust every other potential source of funding. This includes the Department of Veterans Affairs, their private insurance, and other options.
Veterans can apply at the Operation Ramp It Up website and their application will be reviewed by staff at this nonprofit.
4. Check Your Local Charities
There are local charities throughout the country that can help build a free wheelchair ramp for veterans or offer discounted services for either purchasing a wheelchair ramp or installing one.
It can be difficult to find these organizations, but groups like Wounded Warriors and other veterans organizations can help direct you to resources.
You can also check out the Ramps.org website. This website has a list of directories listed by state that can help provide individuals with a free or cost reduced wheelchair ramp.
Other Ways to Get A Free Wheelchair Ramp
If Medicare, Medicaid, and the Department of Veterans Affairs can't help you get a wheelchair ramp, you've got a few more options.
There are disability charities in every state that can help you get free or affordable mobility assistance devices. Many of these charities also help with the cost of both buying a wheelchair ramp and installing it in your home.
Veterans have additional options when it comes to finding a free wheelchair ramp. You can try reaching out to local wheelchair ramp construction companies and the companies who install wheelchair ramps. Many of these businesses either operate charities or donate a few ramps throughout the year to certain applicants.
These charities can also be open to individuals like retired union workers, teachers, and other groups.
There are also charities that focus on helping individuals with low income. These charities will likely need to verify your income before helping you, but they are a great resource for helping individuals gain access to a wheelchair ramp.
Craigslist And Facebook Marketplace
One of your last options could be checking Craigslist and Facebook.
When an individual buys a home with a wheelchair ramp, they don't always need it. These new home buyers often post on online marketplaces and social media websites looking for individuals that can get rid of their wheelchair ramp.
If you have some help removing and installing the wheelchair ramp, this could be a great way to get one for free or at a reduced cost.
Conclusion—How To Get A Free Wheelchair Ramp
You've got plenty of options for getting a free wheelchair ramp ranging from Medicaid through reaching out to local charities. Veterans have additional resources when it comes to finding a free wheelchair ramp. You can also check local online marketplaces like Craigslist to see if anyone is trying to get rid of a wheelchair ramp installed in their home.