How to Pay for It?
The two largest barriers to assistive technology and related
goods and services are lack of information and funding. Hopefully,
we've provided you with all the information and resources
you'll need to get started on modifying your home to make
it more livable. Now the only thing standing in your way is
money. Below is a long list of possible avenues of financial
assistance to pursue. They were collected from many sources,
such as the Illinois Tech Act Project, the Center for Accessible
Housing, Administration on Aging, and the AARP, to name a
few. These are also organizations that will assist you in
your efforts. We hope you'll see something you hadn't thought
Independent Living Centers
These centers provide information and referrals on how to
get funding in your area. There are approximately 400 independent
living centers around the country. For the name of the one
nearest you, contact the National Council on Independent
Living Centers at (703) 525-3406 (V); (703) 524-3407 (TDD).
Most states have a state independent living council (SILC)
that can give you a referral. See the Directory of Centers
for Independent Living, http://www.virtualcil.net/cils
(Click on your state for the CILs nearest you.)
- Plan for Achieving Self-Support
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) allows recipients
of this program to set aside income toward an approved plan
for achieving self-support without jeopardizing benefits.
This plan will cover modifications to a home through an
SSI savings plan. Call (800) 772-1213 for information.
- USDA Rural Development, Section 502
The Direct Rural Housing Loan Program, Section 502,
provides assistance to very low, and low income owner-occupied
households. The Guaranteed Rural Housing Loan Program
provides assistance to households with moderate incomes
to buy, build, improve, repair or rehabilitate rural homes.
Call (202) 720-4323 for information.
- Veterans with disabilities may contact their service officer
to determine how much modification the Department of
Veterans Affairs (DVA) will pay. Also ask about the
Veteran's Administration Home Adaptation Grant Program.
For literature and details on programs, contact the Paralyzed
Veterans of America: (202) 872-1300 (V), (202) 872-1300,
ext 622 (TTY), (202) 785-4452 (FAX).
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD Homes) has various programs for low income families
and persons with disabilities. Check government pages in
your directory for contact information.
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS): deductions are allowed
for certain modifications such as installation of ramps,
widening doorways, modifying kitchen cabinets and equipment,
moving or modifying electrical outlets and fixtures, fire
alarms, and smoke detectors. Accessibility features are
considered medical expenses. Check with your local office
or tax attorney for details.
- Federal Medicaid Waiver programs are available and variable
on a state or local level.
- Federal Title XXI Social Security funds are available
and variable on a state or local level.
- The Federal Older Americans Act is administered through
state Boards on Aging and/or state and local agencies. Check
for local listings in government pages of directory.
- Check with your State for special, low interest loans
- Your State's Vocational Rehabilitation program may pay
for such things as ramps if the ramp allows a person to
get to his or her job.
- The Rural Developments office provides 502 or 504 loans
in rural areas. Low income homeowners over 62 also qualify
for grants under 504 to build and repair their homes. Contact
your local SDA/Rural Developments county office.
- Check for State sales tax exemptions and deductions; State
and local property tax credits or abatements.
Inquire of your city, town, or county for special housing
programs. Try your alderman or local congressman's office
for information on housing repair programs. Programs are granted
to low income families and may include kitchen or bathroom
modification or ramp installation.
Access Home Modification Program
The Access Home Modification Program provides mortgage loans
(up to $10,000) to assist persons with disabilities or who
have a family member(s) living in the household with disabilities
who are purchasing homes and need to make accessibility modifications.
This program provides a deferred payment loan, with no
interest or fees, and no repayment until the house is sold,
transferred, or the first mortgage is paid off or refinanced.
Center for Accessible Housing (CAH)
CAH publishes fact sheets, such as Financing Home Accessibility
Modifications, Home Financing for Older People, Benefits of
Accessory Unit Housing for Elderly Persons with Disabilities,
The Housemate Agreement, and technical packages for using
grab bars, universal design, etc. Contact: Center for Accessible
Housing at North Carolina State University, (919) 515-3082.
Christmas in April
This is a volunteer project around the country that takes
place on the first Saturday in April. Volunteers organize
painting parties or make repairs to low income, elderly, and
disabled homeowners. Contact Christmas in April USA (try the
Internet) for group near you or start your own.
Many organizations organize repair projects for elderly persons
or persons with disabilities. Organizations may include your
neighborhood association or community groups, churches, synagogues,
Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities, Little Brothers
of the Poor, Jaycees, Agency on Aging, senior centers, building
trade unions, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America,
Kiwanis Clubs, sororities, fraternities, high school volunteerism,
YMCA, Knights of Columbus, Rotary Clubs, Lion's Clubs, B'nai
B'rith, Masons, or 4H Clubs. Inquire about interest in a community
project or see if you can propose one.
Foundations and Donor's Forums
Foundations are nonprofit organizations that support charitable
activities to serve the common good. Individuals, families
or corporations create them with endowments (donated money).
The make grants with the income they earn from investing the
endowments and are exempt from federal income tax. Ask the
librarian of the main library (not a branch) to show you where
to find lists of private foundations.
The Fair Housing Act of 1988 Section 6(a) makes it illegal
for landlords to refuse to let tenants make reasonable
modifications as to a house or apartment if the tenant
is willing to pay for the changes. The tenant must also restore
the apartment or house when they leave, if the landlord wants
it restored. Often times the added accessibility features
makes the unit marketable to more populations and a landlord
may be willing to split the costs. New construction
of dwellings of four or more units must include wheelchair
accessibility through entry ways and bathrooms, reinforced
walls for grab bars in the bathroom, and accessible electrical
outlets and thermostats.
Private Mortgage and Home Loans
- Low interest Home Equity loans or lines of credit are
available from most banks for amounts up to 80 per cent
of the equity a person owns in their home.
- Any accessibility features, such as a ramp or lift should
be added to the price of a home when applying for a mortgage.
- Federal Home Bank/Affordable Housing Programs are connected
with the savings and loan industry. Check with a larger
bank or savings and loan institution.
Disability Mortgages Loans
A comprehensive guide to housing and mortgages
for people with disabilities.
Certain private organizations will be able to assist with
part of the money, so pursuing several sources may cover the
bulk of your expenses, usually available for those who meet
an organization's particular need-based criteria.
Write a proposal letter describing the type of modifications
you need, why you need them, and the costs involved. (Obtain
three bids for services in advance so you'll know how much
you need.) Possible sources: The American Cancer Society,
National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Muscular Dystrophy
Association, and the National United Cerebral Palsy Association.
(Local branch offices will not have the resources the national
Worker's Compensation and Private
- Home modification can be included as part of a Workers
Compensation claim and rehabilitation program.
- Private insurance can include home modification as part
of a rehabilitation program. Certain modifications, such
as purification systems or air conditioners may be covered
as a medical necessity, if prescribed by a doctor. Make
sure to get a letter from your doctor describing your injury
and what is needed. (Expect an automatic denial, and then
keep appealing before being accepted. Remember to provide
the specific information requested by your insurance company,
such as obtaining several price quotes for an item.