by Steve Punter
The Gift of Mobility – Free Power Wheelchairs
There are many organizations that offer free power wheelchairs and assistive devices such as hospital beds, lift chairs, walkers and other medical equipment. Here are a few:
MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) accepts wheelchair donations, which they refurbish and offer at no cost to persons in need.
Orphaned Wheelchairs and The Wheelchair Foundation
The Wheelchair Foundation has partnered with Orphaned Wheelchairs to deliver wheelchairs to people in the United States. Orphaned Wheelchairs takes donations of new and used wheelchair equipment, identifies recipients in the USA, and distributes the wheelchair equipment to those in need. Included are free power wheelchairs
Special Kids Fund
Special Kids Fund is an alliance of schools, hospitals, and social service organizations that provide for the special needs of children with disabilities and at-risk youth. Through the Special Kids Fund Vehicles for the Disabled Program, donated wheelchair vans and vehicles are given to physically disabled persons who are not able to afford them. This includes traditional and powered wheelchairs.
The Senior Wheels USA Program
This program makes available power (electric) wheelchairs to seniors (age 65 and up) and the permanently disabled at no cost to the recipient, if they qualify. Power wheelchairs are provided to those who cannot walk and cannot self-propel a manual wheelchair, and who meet the additional guidelines of the program.
The Wheelchair Project
The site offers an inventory list of all available wheelchairs – both manual and powered. They do not put a price on the chairs, only ask that you either pick up or arrange for delivery.
If you plan on getting a power wheelchair through Medicare or your own private insurance, it is important to note that Medicare and most private insurers will cover between 50% and 80% of the allowable price for power chairs for those who are eligible. The amount that your insurance company pays will depend in part on the type of mobility chair you require and the state in which you live. Be sure to do your homework, and beware of anyone who knocks on your door or approaches you on the street and offers to take you to a physician to get a free power wheelchair or scooter. Legitimate providers do not do that. Instead, they prefer to work with your existing physician. Avoid anyone who will not allow you to use your own physician and insists that you go to theirs.
It is possible to find free power wheelchairs if you are realistic about what is available. Regaining your mobility and independence is definitely worth the research!