Posted by ULS/ATP on February 02, 2003 at 09:12:11:
In Reply to: What funding programs are available to help pay for assistive technology? posted by D. Gerard on December 27, 2001 at 00:39:35:
Funding for Assistive Technology - Who Pays?
Source: ULS Assistive Technology Program for the District of Columbia
Assistive technology (AT) is important in helping many people with disabilities overcome their functional loss. Assistive technology can help people with visual impairments read, it can translate speech into type and it can allow people with restricted mobility to control their environment.
Assistive technology devices that open new worlds for people with disabilities can cost thousands of dollars, well outside the resources of many families. Therefore, financial help is vital in helping persons with disabilities obtain the appropriate technology which will allow them to achieve their full potential.
Fortunately, there are many funding sources both public and private to assist people with disabilities. Each source has it's own regulations, limits and eligibility requirements, and each case is unique. This brochure is an introduction to some of the funding sources and their criteria.
What are some funding considerations?
The way you intend to use assistive technology will dictate which potential funding source you may want to access. Know the purpose of the device you are asking for. You need to determine if it is a medical necessity, a tool for education or a means of maintaining a job. For example, your chances of success will be greater if you ask a school to fund an AT device that is educationally related, like a computer, or if you ask your insurance company, or Medicaid to fund a medically necessary device such as a wheelchair.
Medical necessity devices are those that are essential to maintaining or attaining health or that replace a lost or non-functioning body part. Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies are the sources to approach with a claim for medical necessity. It is important to contact each of them ahead of time to determine their definitions and requirements for medical necessity.
What is available and required from your school?
The U.S. Department of Education mandates that all children must receive a "free and appropriate public education". If it is determined that your child needs an AT device in order to receive an appropriate education and that technology is included in the Individual Education Program (I.E.P.), the school district must provide it. When a school purchases equipment, it is owned by the school not the user. This may mean that the student will have to leave the equipment at school after school hours, during the summer or permanently, if the child were to move or graduate.
What are some funding options?
Private insurance comes in several forms and is still largely unregulated when it comes to assistive technology. Insurance policies are often silent about what technologies and services they cover.
Medicare is available to people over age 65 and people with disabilities under age 65 who have been entitled to receive Social Security disability benefits. While Medicare may provide coverage for some assistive technology devices, the scope of coverage is limited.
Medicaid is a joint federal/state program that provides medical and health care services to people with low incomes. assistive technology devices must respond specifically to medical problems and be prescribed by a physician.
Denial of your request for medical assistance is not an end point. It is important to make it clear that you intend to follow the appeals process...then do it. Your most important tool in an appeal will be your records. Make sure you keep copies of all correspondence and records of phone conversations.
What can the Rehabilitation Services
Administration do for you?
The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) may fund AT devices that increase the likelihood of employment for a person with a disability through the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. Individuals must meet eligibility requirements in order to receive these services.
Some other funding options are:
* Veteran's Administration may provide funding for AT devices for veterans with disabilities.
* Worker's Compensation may fund AT devices and services for persons with work related injuries.
* PASS (Plan to Achieve Self-Support) is a program offered by the Social Security Administration for people who receive SSI or SSDI. Through PASS it is possible to set aside funds for equipment without causing recipients to lose eligibility for benefits.
Nonprofit organizations, private corporations and manufacturers of assistive technology are also valuable sources of funding. They may be able to put you in contact with families who have been successful at locating funding and purchasing equipment. Some nonprofit groups and manufacturers sponsor guaranteed loan programs for the purchase of AT devices while others actually loan equipment or computer software.
Local service clubs such as Kiwanis, Knights of Columbus and the Lions will often contribute funds or organize fundraisers to assist in the provision of AT devices for individuals who live in their areas. A listing of these clubs can be found in your telephone directory or through the University Legal Services Assistive Technology Program for the District of Columbia.
Individuals seeking funding for AT should also contact disability organizations such as United Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, etc. These organizations may be able to help in obtaining funds.
Local service clubs and disability-specific organizations should be contacted after public avenues of assistance have been unsuccessful.
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