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Free Wheelchairs For The Disabled & Seniors: How To Be Qualified & Where To Look For

woman sitting on a wheelchair

Last Updated: September 22, 2021

It's a sad state to be in when you need a mobility aid, and you have no money to order one as soon as possible. Wheelchairs aren't cheap; you may need to save for several months to afford such a mobility device.

But…

There are other ways to regain control over your life, by searching for free wheelchairs. Some are free, while others come at a subsidized cost as you cater for a small percentage of the price.

So...

Where Can You Get Free Wheelchairs For The Disabled?

disabled old man on wheelchair with a young man

The first place to ask for your free wheelchair is:

Your Insurance Provider

Do you have a health insurance policy? If so, does it cover mobility aids? To find out, check the policy because many of them cover the cost of mobility aids needed for medical reasons.

There are two ways to go about this; contact your insurer to ask for information or read your policy form for details.

Some insurance companies may not give you a wheelchair, but they can help finance one, which is better than bearing all costs alone.

The greatest challenge for you is to find a durable wheelchair as insurance won't cover a new mobility aid annually.

Further, reasons your insurance provider may reject your requests are erroneous paperwork and failure to fill in details about your medical condition.

But, you can appeal after consulting your doctor or equipment supplier. If you're still not able to finance a wheelchair through your insurance provider, take your search for free wheelchairs for the disabled higher by going to:

Medicaid

Medicaid and Medicare are confusing. To differentiate them in a few words, think of Medicare as a federal program for seniors or citizens with a disability, while Medicaid caters to citizens with a low income.

Medicaid comes from the federal government or state funds, administered by the state. To apply, you have to prove that you require a wheelchair to go about daily functions at home, backed by your doctor's evaluation.

On top of that, you have to check other requirements by your state while applying for Medicaid assistance, as these fundamentals vary from one region to the other.

If you don't receive assistance from Medicaid or your insurer, it's time to go to...

Medicare

This program will cover 80% of the cost of your mobility aid, such that your savings or funds from friends and family can cover the rest. It's much easier than having to take this financial burden alone.

It's a good option if you need a wheelchair as you recover from a medical condition, as you can lease one for less than a year. You can use Medicare to buy a manual wheelchair or a battery-powered one.

But…

Your durable medical equipment (DME) supplier will require prior authorization before Medicare pays for a power wheelchair.

Medicare also has a few requirements for applicants. For example, your doctor needs to confirm that you need a mobility device to go about daily activities like bathing.

Plus, the medical condition shouldn't prevent you from operating a wheelchair without assistance, and your home should be wheelchair-friendly.

Wheelchair Donations

empty wheelchairs in a row

You have so many places to apply for a wheelchair with the best wheelchair accessories for the elderly and end your suffering now. Some charities and organizations give out mobility devices they receive from well-wishers.

Among them are organizations that target a particular region. For instance, the Free Wheelchair Mission targets developing countries.

Consequently, you have to search for one that can serve you in the US, such as Veterans Directed Home and Community Based Services, Hope Haven, and Chive Charities, among others. LifeNets also collects used wheelchairs for free and distributes them to the needy.

Other organizations, such as The Wheelchair Foundation, receive donations of mobility aids and distribute them to organizations that serve the needy.

In the US, The Wheelchair Foundation works with The Salvation Army, among other charities; therefore, you can get assistance from the Wheelchair Foundation through such organizations.

Grants

Some grants cater for wheelchairs, while others help you afford a wheelchair-accessible car or funds to remodel your home for your wheels. I'll give you a few examples.

The Brighter Tomorrow Grant from the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation grants up to $1,000 for goods or services that make life manageable.

You can also apply for the Bryon Riesch Paralysis Foundation grant that amounts to $10,000. Grants, however, are very competitive; therefore, you may apply a few times unsuccessfully. But don't give up.

If you're unsuccessful because you submitted your grant application late, apply early in the next round. If the selection prioritizes need, find a grant that suits your medical condition.

You'll find one!

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Get A Wheelchair For Free?

There are so many places, though each avenue has its set of requirements.

We've discussed all of the sources of free mobility devices above, such as Medicaid, Medicare, insurance providers, charitable organizations, and foundations. Maybe, the charity, church, or foundation in your neighborhood can help.

Here's a video about The Wheelchair Foundation and its distribution to different countries:

What Are The Requirements To Get Free Wheelchairs For Seniors?

The requirements vary across sources, but in general, you must submit an evaluation letter from your doctor confirming your need for the most comfortable wheelchair.

For Medicare, your doctor's evaluation should prove that you must use a wheelchair and not any other mobility aid and that without it, life in your home is unmanageable. Overall, in all avenues offering these mobility aids, they evaluate your case based on your need.

Where To Find Donated Wheelchairs?

There are charities and foundations offering used or new wheelchairs. We've listed such organizations in the section above, and they include LifeNets and Free Wheelchair Mission.

Final Thoughts

As we've found out, you have many ways of funding a wheelchair for your life to go back to normal. All of these methods require a lot of paperwork, starting with your doctor's report. But, none of the requirements are too difficult for you.

If you're considering Medicare, Medicaid, or your insurance provider, beyond looking at the amount they'll cater for, also think about the quality of wheelchair you'll get. If the problem is temporary, consider getting a donation then return it to be used by someone else.

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