There’s no such thing as a free lunch, however, is there such a thing as a free lift chair for the disabled?
Let’s find out as we look at programs that might be able to give you a helping hand. These programs include state run Assistance Technology Act programs, Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, charities, and your own insurance.
A Quick Primer on Durable Medical Equipment
A lift chair can be used over and over again. In the medical world of insurance, this is known as Durable Medical Equipment (DME). This is a term you will want to know.
Many things classified as Durable Medical Equipment are also categorized as assistive technology. This is important because…
What is the Assistance Technology Act?
In 1998, the U.S. Federal Government passed the Assistance Technology Act to increase awareness and availability of assistance devices for disabled people. It has been overhauled many times. Now, all 50 states and all U.S. territories are given grant money to provide low or no cost assistance technology to disabled people.
They do this through:
- device loans
- reutilization programs, also known as exchanges
- financing options like subsidies or vouchers
What is Assistance Technology?
While “assistance technology” sounds like a motorized wheelchair, it can mean low-tech options too. For example, a walking stick for a blind person. Any tool to help disabled people be more independent and successful at school, work, or at home qualifies as assistance technology.
- Alabama’s Assistive Technology Resource
- Assistive Technology of Alaska
- Arizona Technology Access Program and the Institute for Human Development
- Arkansas Increasing Capabilities Access Network
- California’s Ability Tools
- Colorado Assistive Technology Program
- Connecticut’s Assistive Technology Program
- Delaware Assistive Technology Initiative
- District of Columbia’s Assistive Technology Program.
- Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology
- Georgia Tools for Life – Media Access Center
- Assistive Technology Resource Centers of Hawaii
- Idaho Center for Disabilities and Human Development
- Illinois Assistive Technology Program
- Indiana Assistive Technology Act project
- Iowa Center for Disabilities and Development, Program for Assistive Technology.
- Assistive Technology for Kansas Program
- Kentucky Assistive Technology Service Network
- Louisiana Assistive Technology Access Network
- Maine Consumer Information and Technology Training Exchange
- Maryland Department of Disabilities
- Massachusetts Assistive Technology in Consumers Hands as well as the Rehabilitation Commission
- Michigan Disability Rights Coalition
- Minnesota STAR Program
- Mississippi Department of Rehabilitative Services
- Missouri Assistive Technology
- Montana Assistive Technology Program
- Nebraska Assistive Technology Partnership
- Nevada Department of Human Resources
- Assistive Technology New Hampshire
- New Jersey Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center
- New Mexico’s Governor’s Commission on Disability
- New York State TRAID Program
- North Carolina Assistive Technology Program
- North Dakota Interagency Program For Assistive Technology
- Assistive Technology of Ohio
- Oklahoma ABLE Tech
- Oregon’s Access Technologies
- Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology and the Institute on Disabilities
- Rhode Island Office of Rehabilitation Services
- South Carolina Assistive Technology Program
- South Dakota Assistive Technology Program
- Tennessee Technology Access Department
- Texas has two: Technology Access Program and the Center for Disability Studies
- Utah’s Institute for Disability Research, Policy, & Practice
- Vermont Assistive Technology Program
- Virginia Assistive Technology System
- Washington Technology for Independence
- West Virginia Center for Excellence in Disabilities
- Wisconsin Assistive Technology Program
- Wyoming Institute for Disabilities
Some Quick Tips for Getting a Free Lift Chair If You’re Disabled:
- 1Talk to your doctor and get one prescribed.
- 2Ask your doctor if he or she is aware of any programs to cover the cost of a lift chair. Your doctor is likely aware of resources for free or low-cost Durable Medical Equipment.
- 3Call your state agency and ask them about what programs they have for “Free Durable Medical Equipment which falls under the Assistive Technology Act.”
- 4Be thoughtful and gracious to the people on the phone. Many of these agencies are understaffed. Please, thank you, and some understanding will motivate the person on the other end of the line to give you their best.
- 5Always ask for a list of resources you might qualify for or to speak to a resource counselor. Even if you don’t qualify for a free chair, you might qualify for other aid.
- 6Demonstrate physical need. If you have a diagnosis, use it. Clear specifics help: “I have severe arthritis in my knees and hips. A lift chair would help me be more independent because I could get out of my chair while my husband is at the store.”
- 7Demonstrate financial need. Know your financial situation before you call. Tax returns, SSID, SSI, or medicare/medicaid eligibility will help you prove you qualify for a free chair.
- 8Avoid the phone at first. If your agency has an email contact, start there. You can write out your inquiry and save time (and patience!) skipping the hold music. Include
- An inquiry: “I’m looking for resources which would provide a free or low cost lift chair under the Assistance Technology Act.”
- A brief summary of how you qualify physically or financially. (Reminder: this email is not confidential!)
- An action: “I would like this inquiry to be sent to the person who can assist me. I would appreciate someone contacting me via…”
- You can send this email to any agency you think might be able to help you! It never hurts to ask!
How to Get a Free Lift Chair Through Medicare
Because a lift chair is a piece of Durable Medical Equipment, it is covered by Medicare Part B and Medicare Advantage. This sounded too easy, didn’t it? You’re right. Medicare only covers the cost of the lift mechanism inside the chair. This means you are responsible for either
- 1Providing the chair and using a lift that can turn any chair into a lift chair
- 220% of the cost of the lift chair through the medicare supplier
How to Get a Free Lift Chair Through Medicaid and Private Insurance
While medicaid is a government program, the state government decides how it is operated. States are not required to cover Durable Medical Equipment in their medicaid policies, but many do. This is also true of private insurance companies.
How to Get a Free Lift Chair Through the Veterans Administration (VA)
If you or your spouse served in the armed forces, you might be in luck! The VA has similar policies to medicare. Should you qualify for a lift mechanism, your VA or civilian doctor can fill out a Request for Service Form.
Charities That Provide Free Lift Chairs
The Triumph Foundation exchange is intended to connect people who need adapted equipment and supplies with persons who have unwanted durable medical goods to offer. The things are absolutely free and have been donated in the hopes that they will find a good home.
Used Home Medical Equipment is a website that offers a free listing service for those with disabilities who want to buy, sell, or donate new and used home medical equipment. Mobility scooters, hospital beds, powerchair lifts, portable lifts, living aids, and other items are among those featured. Everyone can use the website because it is zip code-driven.
The Avon Grove Lions Club Hospital Equipment Program (Pennsylvania) – The Avon Grove Lions Club Hospital Equipment Program was started by Lion Gene McDowell in 1987 with equipment that was given to our club by the Newark, Del. Lions Club. They gave us a few manual hospital beds, a couple of wheelchairs, commodes and walkers. Since the beginning of the program we have accumulated a much greater variety of equipment, which we loan to anyone in the community who has a need. There is no charge for the equipment, but we do accept donations, which helps us to maintain a supply of equipment.
Goodwill Industries of Southern (NJ & Philadelphia) is a community-based, nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization. Tehy offers refurbished home medical equipment to individuals and families. They are the #1 place to donate unopened medical supplies in Philadelphia and South Jersey. They collect gently used wheelchairs, walkers, canes, crutches, hospital beds, Lift chair with recline function and more.
Arizona Assistive Technology Exchange (Arizona) hosted by AzTAP is to put Assistive Technology, adapted equipment or Durable Medical Equipment that is not currently being used into the hands of someone who can benefit from it. Categories of devices listed on the Arizona Assistive Technology Exchange includes daily living aids such as: Bathing/Toileting Aids, Lift Chairs, Patient Lifts, Adjustable Hospital Beds, Standing Frames/Aids, etc.
Masonic Grand Lodge Charities of Rhode Island, Inc. (Rhode Island) – MGLC supports a number of civic and social charitable organizations throughout our jurisdiction through several initiatives to support and inspire not only their masonic families but also their local communities within their jurisdiction of the great state of Rhode Island. They have available free of charge a wide variety of equipment: Walkers, Canes, Wheelchairs, Commodes, Shower Chairs, Electric Hospital Beds, Lift Chairs, Transport Chairs, Ramps and more.
Center For Independence of Individuals with Disabilities (California) – CID accepts donated AT and gives it to consumers in need of the equipment. CID accepts a variety of durable medical equipment such as stairlifts, porch lifts, elevators, wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs and scooters, walkers, canes and crutches, and visual aids such as magnifiers, etc. Items must be in excellent working condition and be “like new” to be accepted. CID serves disabled residents of San Mateo County. Most items are provided free of charge but in certain instances, there may be a share of the cost. CID accepts donations by appointment only. Please call for more details.
Wiregrass Rehabilitation Center, Inc (Alabama) – WRC is a non-profit organisation that serves 12 counties in Southeast Alabama, 19 counties in Southwest Georgia, and 19 counties in Florida’s panhandle. The R.E.A.L. Project is a one-stop collection and distribution facility for donated used medical equipment that can be used by anyone who needs equipment but cannot afford the cost of a new item.
Disability Action Center (California) – Disability Action Centers durable medical equipment recycling program serves consumers of all ages and disabilities that live in Shasta, Modoc, Siskiyou, Lassen, Butte, Tehama, Glenn, and Plumas County. We take donations of used AT/DME and then clean, repair, and distribute the devices to people in our communities who need them free. Availability of items varies based on what has been donated to , and the available storage space; the inventory may include: wheelchairs, walkers, canes, crutches, shower chairs, commode chairs, Hoyer lifts, lift chairs and many other items.
Ashland Christian Health Center (Ohio) accepts a wide range of long-lasting medical equipment They do not accept hospital beds or lift chairs, but they will place your name on a list of beds and chairs to donate so that when they receive a call about a need for a lift chair, they can recommend you.
We Care of Lake County (Central Florida) allows adults and children recuperating from hospitalisation or living with chronic diseases can receive free secondhand medical equipment, including hospital beds. When you contact We Share of Central Florida, you will be able to obtain the medical equipment you require for your condition.
ECNV (VA) keeps a database of items that members of our community want to donate, and then connects those items to people who need them for free.
Clinics Can Help (Palm Beach County, Florida) CCH is a nonprofit that collects used durable medical equipment so that it can be distributed to those who need it most. They collect, clean, repair, and store used medical equipment that is still in good condition so that it is ready to help someone who cannot afford it. This equipment includes wheelchairs, walkers, lift chairs, patient lifts, crutches, canes, and nebulizers.
For over 29 years, Project MEND has donated properly reconditioned and disinfected medical equipment and other assistive technology devices to people of all ages in South Texas who have a handicap or sickness.
FODAC (Georgia) – FODAC gives adults and children with disabilities in need the home medical equipment (HME) necessary for an enhanced quality of life.
Any Oklahoman who is in need of Durable Medical Equipment (DME), regardless of income can contact Oklahoma Able Tech.
Barnesville Area Helpers (Minnesota) – The use of equipment and safety items are available at NO cost to their clients. They gladly accept gently used equipment including Walkers, Wheelchairs, Canes, Commodes, Shower chairs, Grab bars, Grab bars, Lift chairs, Scooters, Bed grab bar and more.
St. Louis Health Equipment Lending Program (Missouri) – St. Louis HELP is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization which provides anyone in need access to free home medical equipment through their recycle and reuse program, enabling them to live as independently as possible and remain contributing members of the community.
The Foundation Assisting Seniors (Nevada) – The Foundation Assisting Seniors maintains and delivers an inventory of durable medical equipment for a short-term loan to seniors throughout the Southern Nevada Community. All equipment is cleaned, disinfected, and sanitized with Microshield 360.
Healthcare Equipment Recycling Organization (North Dakota, Minnesota) – Here maintains a healthcare accessory store to provide donated medical items for those in need. Equipment includes Bedside commodes, Canes, Crutches, CPAP & BIPAP machines, Electric hospital beds, Electric scooters, Gait belts, Hospital beds, Hoyer lifts, Lift chairs, and more
NCA Community Services (Oklahoma)NCA is a Community Action Agency in Southern Oklahoma that provides innovative programmes and services that promote self-sufficiency and give everyone the opportunity to live in dignity and decency. Wheelchairs, hospital beds, shower chairs, lift chairs, walkers, crutches, canes, and other medical equipment are available at INCA Community Services, Inc. A variety of blood pressure cuffs, adult briefs, bedding, leg and arm restraints, and other items are also available in the lending closet. The big collection is kept in the Atoka Office.
The Maryland Department of Aging (Maryland) – MDA is providing durable medical equipment (DME) to Marylanders with any illness, injury, or disability, regardless of age, at no cost. All equipment is collected via donation and is sanitized, repaired, and redistributed to Marylanders in need. DME include Wheelchairs, Power Wheelchairs & Power Scooters, Rollators and Walkers, Shower Chairs and Tub Transfer Benches, Bedside Commodes and Toilet Safety Rails, All Pediatric Equipment, Home Hospital Beds, Mechanical Lifts.
It might not be possible to get a free lunch, but it could be possible to get a free lift chair through the Assistive Technology Act! State agencies can help you get an affordable lift chair to meet your needs. Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA may be able to help too.