Page Reviewed / Updated – September 24nd, 2021

Medicare is often the first place seniors look for help with medically necessary expenses, but Original Medicare doesn’t always pay for wheelchair ramps or other durable equipment. Seniors with limited resources are not without help, however, as there are programs that can help manage the cost of installing an at-home wheelchair ramp.

Mobility issues are very common among seniors, who may need significant modifications to remain safely in their own homes. Seniors whose ability to walk is limited, or who must use mobility aids such as wheelchairs, walkers or canes, may have a hard time getting up and down stairs like they used to. Wheelchair ramps are common home modifications that help seniors get in and out more easily and encourage aging citizens to live fuller lives outside of their homes. The benefits of having a wheelchair ramp, or other safety and mobility improvements such as grab bars, installed are considerable, so it’s worth exploring where you can get help paying for wheelchair ramps. 

Medicare Coverage for Wheelchair Ramps

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for eligible seniors aged 65 and over. It is split into two major components, commonly known as Original Medicare (Parts A and B) and Medicare Advantage, or Part C. Wheelchair ramps, like most installed home improvements, are considered durable medical goods by Medicare. Under Original Medicare, you can get reimbursed for ramp installation only if your doctor agrees that it is medically necessary. While this may be possible for seniors who must use a wheelchair, it can be a high bar to clear for seniors with heart and respiratory issues, or who can still walk but with reduced mobility.

Medicare Advantage plans are issued by private insurance companies and vary considerably between providers and the states where they operate. By law, all Medicare Advantage plans must provide the same coverage seniors could get from Original Medicare Parts A and B, but they are also free to offer extra benefits. Some Part C plans do include home modifications, notably wheelchair ramp installation, as a covered benefit. Speak with a plan representative to find out whether your Medicare Advantage policy can help you with getting a wheelchair ramp installed.

Other Options to Pay for Home Modifications

Aside from Medicare, seniors may have other options to get help paying for wheelchair ramps. Some seniors carry Medicare supplemental insurance, called Medigap, that includes some home modification coverage, though terms for reimbursement vary considerably between policies. Medicaid, which is a joint federal-state insurance program for people with low income, may also help with getting a new wheelchair ramp. Because the alternative to improved home access is often for seniors to move into assisted living facilities, some state-level assisted living waiver programs are willing to reimburse some of the cost of getting a wheelchair ramp installed, which helps seniors stay safe and comfortable inside their own homes.

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