Getting a lift chair through the VA isn’t straightforward. Then again, what is straightforward with the VA?
Does the VA Pay for a Lift Recliner?
The short answer is yes and no. The Veterans Health Administration will cover Durable Medical Equipment (DME). The good news is, the VA will cover the lift mechanism. The bad news is, they will not cover the chair. Thankfully, there are lift mechanisms on the market which can turn a household chair into a lift chair.
Do I Qualify for a Free Lift Chair Through the VA?
According to The Clinical Practice Recommendations for Prescription of Seat Lift Mechanisms there are seven criteria you need to meet to get a lift mechanism through the VA.
- 1You must be interested in better mobility. This means being willing to submit to an exam of the root problem for why you struggle to get out of a chair on your own, and physical or other therapy as recommended by your doctor.
- 2You must be able to walk independently for at least 20 feet. (You may use a walker, cane, or other assistive device.)
- 3You need to have documented arthritis in your hips and knees and/or severe weakness in your hips, knees, or arms due to a neuromuscular condition.
- 4You cannot stand from a hard, straight back chair, even if it has arms.
- 5You can safely operate controls.
- 6You are not wheelchair bound, do not struggle with balance, or have mental struggles which would make it unsafe to operate the lift.
- 7Your doctor who treats the condition or disease (i.e. multiple sclerosis) is the one who prescribed the lift. The doctor must show they have tried all other options to help you stand and sit down without the lift.
If you meet all the requirements, congratulations! You are well on your way to receiving your new lift mechanism! What’s next?
How to Get a Lift Chair Through VA: The Approval Process
If you are receiving care through a VA clinic or physician, talk to him or her at your next visit about the steps involved, and he or she can submit an order.
If you are receiving care through a civilian doctor or health facility, not to worry! You can still get a lift through the VA through Care Coordination. Your doctor can fill out a Request for Service Form. (Also known as a VA Form 10-10172, if we’re being technical.) He or she will be requesting Durable Medical Equipment (DME).
You can print out a blank copy of the form for your doctor here.
Once your doctor submits a copy of the Request for Service form and all relevant documentation, the VA has three days to approve or deny. They may also request more information from your doctor. Your doctor will be told if you are approved or denied.
If approved, your doctor will be informed if the lift mechanism will be provided through a VA clinic or a local medical supply.
Other Options for a Free Lift Chair
Medicare: Also covers Durable Medical Equipment through Medicare Part B and Medicare Advantage. Like the VA, they will cover a lift mechanism, but not the chair. They will cover about 80% of the cost of the lift chair. The conditions to qualify are much the same as the VA.
Medicaid: It will vary depending on your state’s Durable Medical Equipment Policy.
Social Security Administration: Will conditionally cover seat lifts, including recliner seat lifts, but will only reimburse the portion for the lift mechanism.
Charities: Local charities may help with the cost of Durable Medical Equipment. Google “insert your city and state here” + “Free Durable Medical Equipment” + “Charity” and see what comes up. For example, those living in Virginia, F.R.E.E is a resource you might wish to look into.
Private Insurance: Private insurance companies are not required to cover the costs of Durable Medical Equipment. However, many do. Check your policy to see if Durable Medical Equipment is covered and whether you’ll need a prescription.
State Resources: Each state has an organization to help residents who qualify, usually financially, receive free or low-cost assistance technology. These state organizations work with both public and private assistance programs, including charities. “Assistance technology” can be anything which helps the elderly or disabled to fully engage in the activities of daily life. This “technology” can include lift chairs.
Even if your state agency doesn’t offer free lift chairs, talking to one of their representatives can help you find low cost options. Many states have Durable Medical Equipment Exchanges, like the one operating out of Dallas, Texas.
The links for each state are provided below:
- 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
Getting a lift chair or lift recliner covered by the VA is possible. They will pay for the lift mechanism for free! You’ll just need to supply the chair. There are several other options besides the VA to get a chair. These included Medicaid, Medicare, charities, and state agencies.