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Funding assistive technology

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Contents

Introduction

As new technology emerges many more tools and options become available to people with disabilities. These new tools assist people in living independently and to effectively compete both in the classroom and the workplace, as well as participate in hobbies and recreational activities.

Consumers and families often face a complex map of eligibility requirements, potential funding sources, restrictions, paperwork, rules and regulations, and denials and refusals. This fact sheet attempts to provide sources of information to help negotiate that process.


Getting Started

Before trying to find the appropriate funding source, there are two basic steps to take to make the process smoother and less tedius.

The First step is to determine what assistive technology is needed. Often times the type of technology needed will drive the funding source. For example, a wheelchair or walker may be funded through private insurance or Medicaid/care. Whereas, home modifications will often need to be funded through private loans. A workplace accommodation such as a computer with special software will usually be funded by Vocational Rehabilitation.

In almost all cases a consultation with a therapist, physician, or rehabilitation professional will be required to determine the necessary features to accommodate changes in disability and/or ability levels. After your consultation and your needs are determined, obtain a prescription for the device.

The Second step is to gather information. Regardless, of the source of funding you choose this information will be needed and often times required. Often times you can gather this information just by contacting your physician. Having the following information will help avoid frustration and save time:

  • Primary Disability
  • Time of Onset
  • Cause of Disability
  • Health Insurance Information
  • Employment History
  • Family Gross Income
  • Monthly Expenses (rent or mortgage payments, utilities, outstanding loans and bills, medical expenses, etc.)
  • Names, Ages, and Relationship of Dependents


Preparing a Letter of Medical Necessity

Before any funds are dispersed, some funding sources require the applicant to submit a letter of medical necessity. This is particularly true for government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Vocational Rehabilitation. When the funding source is a public or private insurance policy, a physician or a therapist usually must submit this letter indicating the medical necessity of the purchase.

State vocational rehabilitation agencies usually insist that anyone applying for funds must be able to clearly demonstrate that the service or technology will enhance their ability to prepare for, get, or keep a job. If employment is not expected, then the letter of medical necessity must show that the device will improve the individual’s ability to function independently.

Other funding sources will have their own specific requirements. Success in securing funding is frequently dependent on the applicant's ability to address each agency's unique requirements in a funding request.

Sources of Funding Assistance and Information

A variety of projects and agencies offer funding-related information. Some are national in scope, while others are state-specific. Each state and territory in the U.S. has a Technology Assistance project that has up-to-date information on assistive technology resources for that state. Some projects have compiled lists of funding resources available in their states. The list of Technology Assistance Projects can be accessed by going to http://www.resna.org/AFTAP/state/index.html

Medicaid is another possible source of funding. However, please keep in mind Medicaid funding policies vary by state. What is covered by Medicaid in one state may not be covered in another. You may locate your state’s Medicaid office by going to: http://www.pascenter.org/state_based_stats/pick_a_state.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pascenter.org%2Fstate_based_stats%2Fagencies_home.php&title=Agencies%20Related%20to%20PAS

Other Funding Considerations

Local Churches or Civic Organizations Local AT Recycling programs State AT Loan Programs

AT Loan Programs

When considering a state assistive technology loan be mindful that the required documentation may be more intensive then what a traditional loan would require.

Tax Incentives

Depending on the technology purchased you may be able to deduct a portion from your income taxes. Please check with the IRS at http://www.irs.gov . Publication 907, Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilities, can be reviewed at http://www.irs.gov/publications/p907/index.html

Successful Funding

The key to success is educating yourself. The decision to grant funding for assistive technology is often times affected by the applicant's knowledge of the process, determination, and preparation. Before you begin to explore your options for funding, you should be able to identify the desired outcome as a result of the new technology. You should also take the time to become familiar with potential funding sources, their eligibility requirements, necessary paperwork, and payment policies. Most importantly, you should select funding sources in accordance with their needs and be able to justify the funding request to meet the agency's criteria.


Author: Glenn Moscoso
Affiliation: CATEA - GA TECH
Email Address: [1]
Web Site: http://www.catea.org