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6 Ways to Get Free Wheelchairs + Qualifications

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How can I get a wheelchair for free?

Mobility products such as wheelchairs are not easy to come by if you’re living on a tight budget.

Fortunately, there are a few different ways to cut that cost down to zero (or close to it, at least).

We’ll outline them below, so keep reading!

How Can I Get a Wheelchair for Free? (6 Ways)

man happily riding a free wheelchair after discovering the answer to "How can I get a wheelchair for free?"

If your mobility has been compromised due to age, an injury, or a recent disability, you would need a wheelchair to help you get around.

However, an electric chair or even a manual one may be expensive to acquire.

Modern wheelchairs are not cheap and sometimes you may need to pay as much as a month’s salary (or even more) just to get a high-quality manual wheelchair that you can rely on.

According to statistics published by the Knights of Columbus, about 100 million people with disabilities across the world simply cannot afford this.

Luckily, there are so many programs and charities that are committed to providing the gift of mobility by providing free wheelchairs as well as free mobility scooters to those who need them most.

If you fall into this category, there are several ways you can get a free chair or rather at a subsidized price to improve your quality of life.

#1 Medicare

If you suffer from mobility issues due to age, a disability, or an injury you sustained, then you might be eligible for Medicare Plan B wheelchair benefit.

The benefit also covers people who are recovering from surgeries and in need of mobility products.

While Medicare doesn’t give you a free wheelchair, the cost is subsidized. Rather than paying the entire amount, Medicare covers 80% of the costs and you pay the remaining 20%.

If you have other medical coverage that can take care of the 20%, getting a wheelchair through Medicare ends up costing you nothing.

All you need is to talk to your doctor who will write a note confirming that you have mobility issues that need a wheelchair.

#2 Medicaid

If you need a wheelchair but don’t have ANY insurance coverage, finding out if you qualify for Medicaid should be your first step.

This is a state-run program and eligibility varies from one state to another. So, you’ll need to contact your local social services agency to learn if you are eligible for wheelchair benefits.

Here’s the good news if you qualify: Medicaid -unlike Medicare- provides free mobility scooters and battery-powered wheelchairs to those eligible.

It can also cover the remaining 20% cost you have to cover when you are also using Medicare.

The bad news? Some states have very strict income limits for Medicaid, and even making as little as $200 a month can knock you out of their brackets.

So, if neither Medicaid nor Medicare (or a combination of the two) are an option, keep reading.

#3 Search locally

senior man writing an application for a free wheelchair

If Medicare and/or Medicaid isn’t really an option for you, your next step should be to type “Free Wheelchair for Seniors and the Disabled Programs near me” into your favorite search engine.

While your results will vary depending on where you live, you should end up with a nice list of organizations nearby to contact, including church groups, Goodwill, and other charitable organizations.

Local chapters of groups like the VFW, American Legion, and other veterans organizations are another great option, especially if you served in the military (or even if your parent or spouse did).

#4 The Wheelchair Foundation 

One of the best ways to get a wheelchair if you need one is through donations.

The Wheelchair Foundation is one such organization that supplies free wheelchairs to people with mobility issues who can’t meet the cost of a wheelchair.

The charity was founded in 2000 and has for more than two decades delivered more than 750,000 wheelchairs to needy people in more than 150 countries.

They partner with non-government organizations to determine who receives their donations. In the US, that includes organizations like Goodwill Industries and Catholic Charities.

So, reaching out to one of those organizations is your first step towards getting a free wheelchair.

#5 LifeNets Wheelchair Project

This organization operates like other similar charities with the only difference being that they are smaller and rely on a self-sustaining donation model.

The charity is run online whereby users can list wheelchair donations as well as request for wheelchairs.

The charity encourages past wheelchair beneficiaries to re-gift the wheelchairs received when they don’t need them anymore.

#6 The Free Wheelchair Mission (Outside the US)

For those living outside the US, the Free Wheelchair Mission may be your best option.

This is a Christian-run charity that receives wheelchair donations and supplies them to people who have impaired mobility but don’t have a personal wheelchair budget that they can rely on.

The charity has over the years donated more than a million wheelchairs.

Qualifications to Get a Free Wheelchair 

teenager kid in a wheelchair with her white dog

With government assistance programs like Medicare and Medicaid, a doctor has to submit a written note stating that you have a medical condition that requires you to use a manual or power wheelchair.

Your limited mobility needs to meet the following conditions;

  • Your health condition causes you difficulty moving around the house.
  • You have a condition that makes it impossible to carry out activities like dressing, bathing, getting in and out of a chair or bed, or even using the bathroom on your own even when you have a crutch, cane, or walker.
  • The doctor is treating you for a condition that requires you to use either a manual wheelchair or a scooter and your chosen supplier is enrolled in Medicare.
  • You can operate or get on and off the scooter or wheelchair on your own or have someone who can always be there to help you use the device safely.
  • A doctor has confirmed your mobility impairment and you have already fulfilled all the requirements of the Medicare or Medicaid application.

Free Wheelchair FAQs 

Can I borrow a wheelchair from the Red Cross?

If you are living in the UK, the British Red Cross makes it possible to borrow a wheelchair for short-term use. The Red Cross makes it possible to hire a wheelchair for £17.50 per week for as much as 20 weeks.

How long does it take to get a free wheelchair?

How long it takes to get your wheelchair depends on the provider. Charities and government assistant programs operate differently. At the end of the day, however, once you have met all the requirements, it shouldn’t take long to get your wheelchair.

How often can you get a free wheelchair?

With most organizations and programs that provide free wheelchairs, you get a free manual or electric wheelchair for as long as you need it. Should you stop using one but later need one in the future, you can always reapply for a new wheelchair.

How to get a wheelchair for free for short-term use only?

If you require a wheelchair for short-term use like when you are recovering from surgery you don’t need to pay for a new permanent wheelchair. Instead, look for programs and charities that offer wheelchair hire services and get one for free or at a subsidized cost.

Conclusion 

We hope we helped answer your question of ‘how can I get a wheelchair for free?’

Remember, start with government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, then work your way down the list.

You shouldn’t have to go farther than #3 above in most cases, but it’s good to know that there are other options if those don’t work out for you.

Resources

Do you have other ideas on how to get a free wheelchair? Please share with us below!

About Liliane

Lilian is a passionate writer and avid cyclist with over 4 years of experience in blogging. As a lifelong learner, she is driven by her curiosity to discover and learn new things. This curiosity and passion eventually sparked a love for the senior writing niche. She has written countless articles to help seniors find their footing in this world through healthy and holistic living. She’s passionate about seeing the seniors in society live a more fulfilling life to the end. Feel free to follow her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lilian-wamaitha/

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