A wheelchair is a device that has been designed to assist people in moving from one place to the other. Wheelchairs are often used for temporary or permanent disabilities, such as spinal cord injuries and cerebral palsy. People with these conditions may often find themselves unable to walk without assistance, making it difficult for them to get around daily life tasks such as going grocery shopping or visiting the doctor’s office. Luckily, many companies provide wheelchairs at no cost!
Who qualifies for free used medical equipment?
A person qualifies for an accessible wheelchair if they meet one of the following criteria:
- The individual must provide proof that they live in an unincorporated area outside city limits.
- The individual must have been declared legally incompetent by either a court, doctor, social services agency, or public guardian and has had their estate formally placed under another’s controlling as the legal representative.
- They may also qualify if they are on Medicare due to their disability status. This is determined at the discretion of each state Medicaid program. (In some states, it does not count because you are still able to walk). You will need medical records documenting your diagnosis and how often you use the wheelchair for mobility needs, along with other supporting documentation.
They may also qualify if they are a veteran of the U.S. military and meet one of these qualifications:
- A service-connected disability discharge or their disease or injury has been determined to be aggravated by active duty in the combat zone, verified by an official report from the Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) stating that the individual’s condition was brought on as such.
- The service member must have served for at least 90 days during wartime while actively engaged with the enemy and have become disabled due to wounds, sickness, pregnancy related reasons, etc., before being discharged from the armed forces; or meet other criteria based on eligibility status through V.A. law.
In each case, there will be specific documentation needed about your need for the wheelchair.
Ways to Get Free Wheelchairs for Disabled Persons or Seniors
Free Wheelchair for Seniors and the Disabled Programs
- For seniors and the disabled, many programs will provide you with free wheelchairs. The National Wheelchair Foundation offers grants for those who require mobility assistance at an affordable cost.
- FreeWheel America is another service provider offering wheelchair loans to qualifying individuals in need of this essential item. You’ll have 24/hour access to your loaned chair as long as it meets safety regulations and mileage requirements set by the program providers.
- There’s also Mobility Rehabilitation & Education Services (MRES), which provides services such as wheelchair donations or rentals to qualified recipients on a sliding fee scale based on income level. Hence, no one has barriers to obtaining the equipment they need for daily activities due to financial hardship.
The Wheelchair Foundation
The Wheelchair Foundation is an international non-profit entity that provides wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility aids to people in need. The organization was started by Sean O’Connor, who has paraplegia who developed polio as a child while living in Ireland.
This organization issues wheelchairs to people without health insurance or who live in countries with no socialized healthcare system. Wheelchairs are donated from the U.S. and Europe, refurbished by technicians at The Wheelchair Foundation’s headquarters in London, then shipped to a developing country. They are given as gifts for humanitarian purposes.
The organization also has an online store that sells new wheelchairs made of materials recycled when necessary.
The company reviews various models of wheelchairs to find out how easy it is for people in certain professions to use them while on the job. They award scores based on comfortability during prolonged sitting periods and mobility aids such as seat height adjustments or armrests explicitly designed for those with limited hand movement capabilities (such as individuals who have muscular dystrophy).
To get a wheelchair through this organization, you need to be a citizen of a country with no socialized healthcare system, or you need to provide proof that your private insurance coverage is insufficient. You also must receive the same type of assistance from other charitable organizations worldwide before being allowed access to this organization’s resources.
The Free Wheelchair Mission
The Free Wheelchair Mission is a non-profit organization providing free wheelchairs to people in need since 2005. They work with clinics, hospitals, and other organizations worldwide that can’t afford or have limited access to wheelchair donations. We work with over 100 organizations in 35 countries and all 50 states.
This organization issues wheelchairs to people who need them, and they can do this because of their donors. If you’re looking for a way that you can help those in need with their mobility needs, then consider donating money or wheelchairs themselves.
To get a wheelchair through this organization, you need to find a need in your local area. Then contact the hospital or clinic and ask them to contact The Free Wheelchair Mission.
You must contact the organization before a wheelchair becomes necessary because they need time to work with their partners overseas on getting it ready for shipping. They can’t send out wheelchairs without knowing how many there will be required at any given time in your area.
Lifenets Wheelchair Project
Life nets Wheelchair Project. Lifenet is an organization that creates customized wheelchairs for children who cannot afford one, and they offer it up to the recipient at no cost. To qualify, you must be a child in need of a wheelchair or have someone under your care with such needs. The project takes about four months from start to finish, but the recipient needs to submit their measurements and be available for an in-person meeting.
Life nets Wheelchair Project uses the charity model of free distribution. The organization provides wheelchairs at no cost in developing countries by relying on donations and support from volunteers, organizations, corporations, and individuals such as you.
The Lifenets website says that all you need to do is contact them, and they will provide a wheelchair according to your needs.
Your Insurance Company
Your insurance company. If you are lucky enough to have a health care plan, contact your insurance provider and ask if they cover the cost of wheelchairs. They will most likely be able to tell you after looking at your policy whether or not they can pay for a wheelchair like that under their plans.
If they do not cover the cost, ask them to consider adding this type of coverage to your current plan or changing it for you to be able to get an accessible wheelchair.
Most insurance companies will provide seating services if they approve its use and agree with the diagnosis rendered by their physicians.
Again, all that is needed is an accurate diagnosis.
You want to make sure that there is no step skipped in this process, and if you are not satisfied with the wheelchair, it will be replaced at your request without any cost yours.
It’s worth taking a closer look into what services your insurance company can provide for you
before going through all the trouble of obtaining an accessible wheelchair on your own.
Get Help from Medical Supply Retailers
Get help from medical supply retailers. The good old-fashioned way to get an accessible wheelchair is by the retail store model, which means purchasing it and then asking for your money back when you are done with it or any damage incurred during use. This could be an option if you have a loved one who needs a chair but does not have the money for one.
The downside to this option is that you may not receive a wheelchair with all of your customization needs, and it could be difficult or impossible to find a store in which they carry these types of products.
This can also be expensive as medical supply retailers are typically more costly than their online counterparts, so be careful.
To get a wheelchair, you need to call their hotline and ask to receive a wheelchair.
They offer two types of wheelchairs: the standard manual model or one with power.
You must know which type is best for your needs before calling, as they do not have any way to determine this when you inquire.
How to Get a Wheelchair Through Medicare
Medicare is a government-run health care program for people over 65 years old or who are disabled.
To qualify to get a wheelchair through Medicare, you must meet all the following criteria:
- You’re enrolled in and receiving benefits from Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and have been approved by Social Security as being eligible to receive these benefits because you’re 65 or older, disabled, or have end-stage renal disease.
- You need a wheelchair for daily living, and your doctor has certified that you can’t perform at least one of the following tasks without it: walk from place to sit in a chair up to four steps; transfer yourself from bed to a chair; use stairs safely unassisted, or use public transit unassisted.
- You’re limited to a wheelchair that’s designed for indoor use and can’t be used outdoors, such as in bad weather.
Getting a Certificate of Necessity
- Schedule a doctor’s appointment. Medicare will require a signed Certificate of Necessity from your doctor stating that you meet the criteria for receiving a wheelchair.
- This will require an accurate diagnosis, which can be challenging to get if you have not been diagnosed with C.P. or another form of disability yet. Your doctor may ask for specific tests before they diagnose and prescribe treatments.
- Explain to your doctor why you need a wheelchair. Explain the specific issues you are experiencing that have led to you needing a wheelchair.
- Make sure you will be able to operate the wheelchair safely. A wheelchair is a substantial piece of equipment and one that will take some time to use correctly. You will need to be able to get in and out of the chair, as well as maneuver it around your home.
- If you cannot do this on your own, then you will need help. You may need to find an assistant, whether a family member or professional nurse, to help you safely use your wheelchair.
- Decide on the wheelchair that is best for you. The Certificate of Necessity will have to note the type of wheelchair you need, so make sure you decide before going into the appointment. There are three different types of wheelchairs: a manual wheelchair, a power-operated vehicle, or a power wheelchair.
- Get the signed Certificate of Necessity. Once you have demonstrated your need to your doctor and decided upon the proper wheelchair for you, they can sign the necessary certificate and get you on your way to a wheelchair or scooter.
Getting Your Wheelchair
Check to make sure you have met your Part B deductible. Medicare will not pay for the wheelchair until you have completed your deductible.
- Call Medicare and ask for the National Supplier’s Directory number to get a list of suppliers in your area who can help you obtain a wheelchair or scooter.
- Know how much you are going to pay. Medicare will help cover your expenses, but it won’t make the wheelchair-accessible in most cases. Assuming you meet the deductible, Medicare Part B will cover 80 percent of the wheelchair cost, meaning you will pay 20 percent.
- Find a supplier approved by Medicare. Medicare will only pay for costs they approve, so make sure Medicare supports the supplier.
- Get your wheelchair or scooter and accessories. Once you have found a supplier, please make an appointment to visit them in person to fit the appropriate chair for you (they will do this based on height and weight measurements). You may also want to purchase accessories such as pillows, blankets, and grips to help you get around in your chair.
- Deliver the wheelchair to a Medicare-approved address (your home). Once the supplier has fit it for your needs, they will bring it back to their shop before shipping it out. Your chair may be delivered by truck because of its size.
- If you need further help understanding your Medicare benefits, call the Medicare agency at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), or visit the website at www.medicare.gov.
- If you are not eligible for Medicare assistance, you can still rent a wheelchair, which is a cheaper option than trying to buy one.
Choosing a wheelchair
There are three types of wheelchairs: a manual wheelchair, a power-operated vehicle, or a power wheelchair.
A manual wheelchair is the most basic type of wheelchair and is operated by pushing on both wheels with your hands. In general, they can move at speeds up to four miles per hour in an upright position. A chair like this is best for those who do not need to go long distances.
A power-operated wheelchair is a small vehicle that allows you to move around at speeds up to six miles per hour. It can be controlled by a joystick, which makes it easier for people with limited mobility and strength in their hands or arms. Power-operated wheelchairs are suitable for those who need to go long distances, but they are heavier and not as easy for people with limited mobility in their hands and arms.
A power wheelchair is the most advanced device that allows you to move around at speeds up to eight miles per hour. A joystick or a foot pedal can control these chairs. They are heavy-duty and best for those who need to go long distances but may have limited mobility in their hands or arms.
To understand which wheelchair you need, please get in touch with your doctor.
Would Get help with costs if you were unable to get a wheelchair for free
If you could not get a wheelchair for free, it is best to contact your doctor as soon as possible. They can refer you to an approved supplier who will sell the appropriate wheelchair or scooter at a reduced price.
Medicare does not cover all expenses related to wheelchairs and other medical devices. If this applies to you, you are non-disabled enough that renting a chair may be a cheaper option than buying one of these items outright. Renting chairs typically cost $40-$50 per month, while purchasing them could cost up to $5000 depending on which type of chair you need and wherein the U.S. they are delivered from (unless rented through Medicare).