Financial assistance may be available to assist in paying for durable medical equipment such as ramps, showers or lift products.
Amramp has compiled a list of local, state, federal and private programs available to financially assist in purchasing medical equipment. Your local bank can also provide information on a variety of services available including home equity loans, home equity conversion mortgages and reverse mortgages to pay for needed modifications.
Regular Medicaid doesn’t pay for wheelchair ramps. Like Original Medicare, Medicaid doesn’t consider these to be medically necessary devices. In rare cases, Medicaid has paid for ramps, but usually only after appeals and court involvement.
Wheelchair ramps are classified as durable medical equipment (DME) under Medicaid as well. This is a federal program for low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities and is administered at the state level. So, policies will also vary by state.
There are two ways to obtain coverage for a wheelchair ramp under Medicaid: 1) regular Medicaid 2) Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waivers. Regular Medicaid guarantees benefits for qualified individuals. That means that a wheelchair ramp can be covered by Medicaid if it is deemed medically necessary. While possible, it is generally very difficult to get a wheelchair ramp ruled as medically necessary. The better option for Medicaid is likely going to be an HCBS Waiver.
In many states, Medicaid Waivers pay for the cost of ramps, as they are considered home modifications or environmental adaptations.
See a state by state list of Medicaid Waivers and their benefits here.
Assistance for Veterans:
One option for Veteran assistance is to apply for coverage through TRICARE for Life to supplement Medicare Part B which would pay the remaining 20% co-payments not covered by Medicare. However, you would have to get Medicare to agree to pay for the wheelchair ramp first, which can be difficult as we mentioned earlier. The better option would be to see if you qualify for the Veteran-Directed Home and Community Based Services Program (VD-HCBS).
The VD-HCBS is designed to provide assistance for Veterans who are candidates for assisted living placements to receive the same level of care in their own home. Here is a brief overview of the qualifications:
Health: must require “nursing home level care”
Marital Status: individuals who live alone may have an easier time going through the process, but having a spouse in the home does not make you ineligible for receiving assistance
Location: must live in a home and cannot reside in a nursing home or in an assisted living facility. There are 77 programs in 42 states and veterans are allowed to travel from the home area to participate.
Financial: there are no requirements for financial status
Veteran Service Discharge: required to have had 24 months of continuous active duty and a discharge status other than Bad Conduct or Dishonorable to be eligible for VA Health Care.
Even though Original Medicare won’t pay for a wheelchair ramp, you may have access to other assistance depending on your financial circumstances and where you live. Many states have programs that offer assistance to older adults with limited mobility.
The nonprofit route is a great option for non-Veterans who want to get funding for a wheelchair ramp. There is often less red tape with this route and the non-profit will do all of the heavy lifting so you don’t need to do much work outside of the initial application. Check out this list of national nonprofits that help with funding a wheelchair ramp:
The Ability Experience (formerly Push America) charity from Phi Beta Kappa runs their own AccessABILITY program that is specifically for low-income families to help them get a wheelchair ramp. The non-profit organization supports each project with a $1000 grant for materials and helps to organize the volunteer labor.
Rebuilding Together helps with home modifications and safety improvements for Veterans and other individuals in need. Projects they help with include installing wheelchair ramps, handrails, outdoor lighting, and other home modifications to help a family enter and exit the home safely.
The University of Southern California publishes a directory of programs that assist seniors with the expenses associated with the construction of a wheelchair ramp. Search the comprehensive directory by state to locate programs and resources in your area.
Centers for Independent Living
You can also search for local centers for independent living that offer support and guidance for individuals with disabilities in your area. They operate as a resource for finding local organizations that assist with the cost of a wheelchair ramp.
Some nonprofit programs also offer help for those in need of a wheelchair ramp, including:
Habitat for Humanity’s A Brush with Kindness Program
Loans from private financial institutions may be another option for those in need of a wheelchair ramp. Some financial institutions offer eldercare loans, which may be an option for those waiting on other benefits or funds. Reverse mortgages can also be an option for older adults in need of extra funds.
Download our free guide
Amramp has compiled a list of local, state, federal and private programs available to financially assist in purchasing medical equipment. Click here to download.
Your local bank can also provide information on a variety of services available including home equity loans, home equity conversion mortgages and reverse mortgages to pay for needed modifications.
Partial list of programs
It is unfortunate that not every state offers assistance programs. Many of those that do offer assistance do so only for care services and not for home safety modifications. However, at last review as of September 2019, there were 44 programs in 27 different states and the District of Columbia. The following state based programs provide some level of financial assistance or services to help the elderly make home modifications to allow them to remain living in their homes. Some programs listed here provide financial assistance, but not for a specific purpose. Click on any of the program names to learn more.
Non-Medicaid State Assistance Programs for Home Modifications for Aging – Updated May 2021