Searching for ways to pay for Assistive Technology (AT)?
This page is designed to help you find the financial resources to pay for AT.
Searching for funding is always a difficult task. We recommend that you begin your search by contacting the following key funding sources to determine eligibility:
- Health Insurance programs – private (e.g., CIGNA, Anthem) or public (e.g., Maine CARE, federal Medicare).
- Social Security Administration.
- US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – service related disabilities.
- Public Education funds – early intervention and special education (birth to age 21).
- Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS).
- Organizations offering funding, services or equipment for loan.
- Foundations and organizations offering grants.
- Affordable Financial loans.
- Trusts – a funding option where individuals with disabilities (or their families) establish and fund their own financial accounts.
As you begin your search, please also take a look at our publication, Overview of Funding Assistive Technology for additional guidance and strategies on finding funding for AT.
Health Insurance Programs
Private Health Insurance Policies
You current health insurance policy may pay for part or all of the cost of assistive technology. Check with your carrier or your employer’s human resources department to determine coverage.
If you can’t afford to pay for medical care right now, Maine Care can make it possible for you to get the care that you need so that you can get healthy – and stay healthy.
Maine Care services require you to be both financially and medically eligible. Maine Care does not pay money to you; instead, it sends payments directly to your health care providers. You may also be asked to pay a part of the cost (co-payment) for some medical services.
Other Maine CARE Information
The following policy sections of Maine CARE may provide funding for AT:
- Section 18 – Home and Community-Based Services for Adults with Brain Injury
- Section 19 – Home and Community Benefits for the Elderly and for Adults with Disabilities
- Section 20 – Home and Community Based Services for Adults with Other Related Conditions
- Section 21 – Home and Community Benefits for Members with Intellectual Disabilities or Autistic Disorder
- Section 29 – Support Services for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities or Autistic Disorder
- Section 60 – Medical Supplies and Durable Medical Equipment
Please also see the following resources regarding Maine CARE funding.
- Maine Home/Community-based Waiver AT Comparison Chart- (revised September 2017) – developed by Kelley Smith, COTA/L, ATP.
- Maine CARE Policy Manual – See Policy Sections 18, 19, 20, 21, 29 and 60.
Social Security Administration
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. The Plan to Achieve Self-Support program, or PASS program helps those with disabilities pay for items or services – including AT – needed to achieve a specific employment goal – to work.
One of the biggest concerns SSI beneficiaries have about going to work is the possibility of losing Medicaid coverage. Section 1619(b) of the Social Security Act provides some protection for these beneficiaries. If a SSI beneficiary has gross earnings higher than the threshold amount for his/her State, SSA can figure an individual threshold amount if that person has Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE).
Under Section 1619(B), Social Security will deduct the cost of certain impairment-related expenses that you need in order to work from your earnings when we decide if you are performing substantial work. Examples of impairment-related expenses are things such as a wheelchairs, certain transportation costs and specialized work-related equipment.
Ticket to Work Program
Ticket to Work is a free and voluntary program that can help Social Security beneficiaries go to work, get a good job that may lead to a career, and become financially independent, all while they keep their Medicare or Medicaid. Individuals who receive Social Security benefits because of a disability and are age 18 through 64 probably already qualify for the program.
- US Social Security Administration – “The Red Book – A Guide To Work Incentives”
- “Funding Assistive Technology Through State Medicaid Programs (PDF)” – Special Publication of the National Assistive Technology Advocacy Project – A Project of Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc. –
United States Department of Agriculture – Rural Development Grants
Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants in Maine
Also known as the Section 504 Home Repair program, this provides loans to very-low-income homeowners to repair, improve or modernize their homes or grants to elderly very-low-income homeowners to remove health and safety hazards.
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
The following information is adapted from Veterans’ Benefits and Assistive Technology Considering the Possibilities published in 2007 by Diana M. Straube, Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc. Buffalo, NY.
“The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), (previously known as the Veterans Administration) governs a comprehensive but complicated system of health care. The VA operates over 1400 hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and various other facilities, where eligible veterans receive care and services. The VA is also a potential funding source for assistive technology (AT) for many veterans.
“With a few exceptions, a veteran must be enrolled in the VA healthcare system in order to receive VA care and services. Upon enrollment, veterans are assigned to a category, which is determined by a number of factors, including but not limited to: the type of discharge the veteran received; whether the veteran has a disability; whether the disability is service-connected, and if so, the percentage of service-connected disability (how the disability is rated as a percentage); whether the veteran has been determined to be unable to defray the costs of necessary care; whether the veteran receives an increased pension; whether service occurred during wartime.”
Benefits for Assistive Technology
The following information was published in 2007 by Diana M. Straube, Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc. Buffalo, NY.
- Medical Benefits Package: Enrolled veterans receiving care for any condition are eligible for the “medical benefits package”, which includes durable medical equipment and prosthetic and orthotic devices.
- Guide Dogs and Equipment for the Blind: Blind veterans entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability may be furnished a trained guide dog and expenses related to travel, lodging and meals where the veteran receives training to use the dog. Mechanical and/or electronic communication equipment necessary to overcome blindness, such as adaptive computers, and computer-assisted devices such as reading machines and electronic travel aids, talking books, tapes and braille literature may also be furnished
- Invalid Lift and Other Type of Therapeutic or Rehabilitative Device: A veteran who is receiving special monthly compensation or increased pension based on need for aid and attendance may be eligible for an invalid lift or any type of therapeutic or rehabilitative device.
- Devices for Assisting in Overcoming a Handicap of Deafness: Devices, including telecaptioning television decoders, may be furnished to any veteran who is profoundly deaf and entitled to compensation on account of a hearing impairment.
- Improvements and Structural Alterations: Improvements and structural alterations may be furnished as home health services only as necessary to assure continuation of treatment for veteran’s disability or to provide access to the home or essential lavatory and sanitary facilities.
- Specially Adapted Housing: Specially adapted housing with special features or movable facilities made necessary by the nature of the veteran’s disability may be furnished to eligible veterans.
- Automobile and Adaptive Equipment: Assistance for providing an automobile and adaptive equipment may be furnished to eligible veterans receiving compensation for a number of enumerated disabilities if the disability is the result of an injury incurred or disease contracted in or aggravated by active service.
- US Department of Veterans Affairs – Veteran Benefits Administration.
- US Department of Veterans Affairs – Specially Adapted Housing Assistive Technology Grant Program.
- US Department of Veterans Affairs – Blind Rehabilitation Services (BRS).
- US Department of Veterans Affairs – Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E).
Public Education Funds
The Maine Department of Education Office of Special Services is responsible for the state’s oversight and support for the delivery of all special education services provided in Maine under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This includes Early Intervention services to eligible children age birth to under age three and their families, provided under IDEA, Part C, and Free Appropriate Public Education – Special Education to eligible children age three to 20, provided under IDEA, Part B. The Office of Special Services is also responsible for meeting the state’s responsibilities under IDEA.
Children from Birth to age 20 may be eligible for Special Education Services including AT.
The Maine Child Development Services (CDS) system provides both early intervention (birth through two years) and Free Appropriate Public Education – Special Education (for ages three through five years) under the supervision of the Maine Department of Education. The CDS system ensures the provision of special education rules, federal and state regulations statewide, through a network of regional sites.
CDS consists of regional sites and a state office. The Maine State CDS office maintains a central data management system, system-wide policies and procedures, and provides centralized fiscal services for regional CDS sites.
Regional CDS sites provide case management and direct instruction for families with children from birth through age five. Each site conducts Child Find, which is the process of identifying children with disabilities. Screenings and evaluations are provided in order to identify children who are eligible for services. Regional CDS sites arrange for local services that include early intervention and special education and related services.
Free Appropriate Public Education – Special Education
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal law that governs the delivery of special education to eligible children age birth to 20. IDEA Part B is a federal grant program that provides funds to ensure that eligible students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education that includes special education and related services designed to meet their individual needs.
Special education and related services are administered at the local level by the school district. For each child, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed annually by the IEP Team. The Assistive Technology needs of the child must be considered by the IEP Team and documented on IEP annually.
Bureau of Rehabilitation Services
Working with its partners in the Maine Department of Labor’s Career Center and the rehabilitation community, the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) works with persons with disabilities through its three primary service areas:
- Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) – includes Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Independent Living Services Program.
- Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI) include Vocational Rehabilitation Program for people who are blind or have a visual impairment, Education Program for children who are blind or have a visual impairment, the Business Enterprise Program, and the Independent Living Programs
- Division for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing & Late Deafened (DoD) – includes Programs and Services.
Organizations offering funding, services or equipment loans
Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) – State of Maine Chapter
Must have a neuromuscular disability, Must be registered with MDA.
AUDIENT helps low income people nationwide access quality hearing aids and related care at a significantly lower cost. AUDIENT income qualifies families to be eligible for a discount on brand name hearing aids available through the AUDIENT Alliance’s national network of dedicated hearing care providers. Brand selection includes Oticon, Phonak, Siemens, Widex, & Unitron hearing aids.
For more information – the AUDIENT website or call 1-866-956-5400 and ask for AUDIENT.
Grahamtastic Connection provides free laptops or tablets and internet access to seriously ill children for educational purposes. We concentrate on supporting very ill children who are too sick to leave their hospital room or bed. This enables the child to continue their education, connect with their teachers and classrooms, submit homework assignments, etc.
For more information – The Grahamtastic Connection website.
Phone: 207-324-0888 ext. 209
Telecommunications Equipment Program (TEP) – Disability Rights Maine
The Telecommunications Equipment Program (TEP) was established by state law to provide ‘No’ or ‘Low’ cost adaptive telecommunications equipment to any Maine resident who cannot use their home’s conventional telephone due to a physical or cognitive disability. The program was established to assist low-income residents, and most clients pay nothing for the phone equipment they need.
Through a simple application process, the DRM’s TEP staff will determine which amplified, captioned, or voice-activated telephone and call signaler will meet your needs.
For more information – Telecommunications Equipment Program (TEP)
Regional Hearing Aid Bank – ReHAB
The Regional Hearing Aid Bank – ReHAB is designed to provide one hearing aid to those members of our community who are unable to afford them. It utilizes donated behind-the-ear hearing aids that can be refurbished and reprogrammed for use by another person. The ReHAB program is designed particularly for members of the community who are unable to be served by the Veterans’ Administration, Vocational Rehabilitation program, insurances or other third-party providers and whose annual income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
There is an application process for these services. Applications are available by calling the Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC) Warren Center at 207-404-8080 or may be picked up at the PCHC/Warren Center office at 992 Union Street, Bangor.
Contact information – PCPH Warren Center for Speech and Hearing
Foundations and organizations offering grants
Travis Roy Foundation – Grant Program
Assistance is awarded to paraplegics or quadriplegics paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury. Applicants must demonstrate financial need. Applicants must reside in the United States.
Eligible items include upgrade and maintenance of wheelchairs, vehicle modifications (i.e., hand controls or lifts), home modifications including ramp and elevator installation, and other adaptive equipment. PLEASE NOTE: Grants are not currently available towards the purchase of new or used vans; funds are available for modifications to existing vehicles.
For more information – Travis Roy Foundation.
Travis Mills Foundation
Travis Mills founded the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit organization, formed to benefit and assist wounded and injured veterans and their families. Travis continues to inspire wounded servicemen, women and their families by showing them they can overcome their physical obstacles and emotional challenges and find purpose by staying the course through their recovery and beyond.
For more information – Travis Mills Foundation.
DiDonato Paralysis Foundation
The DiDonato Paralysis Foundation (DPF) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to funding research into curing spinal cord injuries. Their goal is to also improve the quality of life for individuals living with paralysis and other neurological disorders by way of our Grant Program. Grants will be provided to individuals who need assistance with home modifications or adaptive equipment. Providing the necessary equipment to make local activities accessible.
For more information – DiDonato Paralysis Foundation.
Maine Home Repair Network
The Maine Home Repair Network a program of the Maine State Housing Authority, offers help to low-income homeowners who may not be able to afford necessary home repairs and home replacement. If you are eligible, the Maine Home Repair Network may be able to help you with a number of things including handicap accessibility improvements.
For more information – Maine Home Repair Network.
Comfortably Home Program
Maine Housing’s Comfortably Home/Home Modification for Seniors seeks to extend the time income eligible older adults can stay safely in their home while improving health and safety outcomes.
Five local Public Housing Authorities in Bath, Brewer, Fort Fairfield, Old Town, South Portland, and Westbrook. Comfortably Home/Home Modification for Seniors specializes in one-time, minimally disruptive but high-impact minor home improvements.
For more information – MaineHousing’s Comfortably Home/Home Modification for Seniors
The Starkey Hearing Foundation
The Starkey Hearing Foundation is sustained by the efforts of thousands of volunteers and donors around the world delivering more than 50,000 hearing aids annually through more than 100 hearing missions a year in countries stretching from the U.S. to Vietnam.
The Sharkey Foundation’s Hear Now program is a national non-profit program committed to assisting permanent U.S. residents who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and have limited financial resources. The work of Hear Now is supported through the contributions of many benefactors. We receive no government funding. All donations – money, time, hearing aids – allow the program to survive and give the gift of hearing domestically.
For more information – Starkey Hearing Foundation – Hear Now program.
Hearing Loss Association of America
The Hearing Loss Association of America does NOT provide direct funding of assistive technology but does provide a website listing organizations that may provide funding. The website also provides information about other ways to find funding.
For more information – Hearing Loss Association of America.
Hear in Maine – Alpha One
Hear in Maine is an Alpha One program addressing hearing aid need and acquisition within Maine.
Our primary goal is offering people resources to find hearing aid services and programs. We will maintain a comprehensive database of resources.
For more information – Hear in Maine at Alpha One
HOME Retro Program
The HOME Retro Program, administered by Alpha ONE provides up to $15,000 in a grant to qualified Maine homeowners to make home modifications for a disabled resident.
For more information – ALPHA ONE HOME Retro Program.
Independent Living Services Program for Maine Citizens with Disabilities
These federally-funded services offer options and greater self-direction for Maine citizens with disabilities. Areas of attention include: health and self-care; self-advocacy; mobility and accessibility of the home or workplace; recreational pursuits; cognitive problems; communication difficulties; assistive technology and adaptive equipment; and social/behavioral or financial problems.
SAFELINK WIRELESS service is a U.S. government supported program for income-eligible households provided by TracFone Wireless, Inc. In order to participate in the SAFELINK WIRELESS service, persons must meet certain eligibility requirements set by each State where the service is to be provided. These requirements are based on a person’s participation in a state or Federal support programs or by meeting the Income Poverty Guidelines as defined by the U.S. Government. SAFELINK WIRELESS service is limited to one person per household.
For more information – the SafeLink Wireless website.
Kelly Brush Foundation
The Kelly Brush Foundation (KBF) is dedicated to making active lifestyles a reality for anyone with a spinal cord injury. Life is better active!
Through the Active Fund, KBF provides grants for individuals with paralysis caused by spinal cord injury to purchase adaptive sports equipment. KBF believes in the power of sport and recreation to foster inclusion and overcome the barriers of paralysis. They have helped over 600 people from 47 states purchase handcycles, monoskis, sport chairs, racing chairs, hockey sleds, and much more.
For more information – the Kelly Brush Foundation – Active Fund website.
Robbie Foundation: Helping Children with Special Needs One Child at a Time
The Robbie Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting children with developmental disabilities (including, but not limited to physical disabilities, speech and language delays, sensory integrated disorders, cerebral palsy, brain injury, autism spectrum disorders, mental retardation). The foundation serves children between the ages of birth and 20 years residing in the state of Maine. Their primary mission is to fund adaptive equipment, assistive technology, therapy treatment and/or any necessary item not covered by insurance.
For more information – the Robbie Foundation website.
ACT Today! – Autism Care and Treatment
ACT Today! grants are designed to provide access to individuals and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. Grant payments will be made directly to pre-approved treatment providers, assessors or materials vendors.
For more information – visit the ACT Today! website.
Adaptive Equipment Rebate Program – Mobility Resource
The Mobility Resource provides a comprehensive list of rebate programs offered by vehicle manufacturers including: Acura, DaimierChrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Jaguar, Lexus, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo. We hope it will help lighten the financial load when its time to buy a car, adaptive equipment or both. Reimbursements range from $500 to $1000. Please check back often, as rebates can change frequently.
For more information – Adaptive Equipment Rebate Program – Mobility Resource
Maine Building Materials Exchange
The mission of the Maine Housing and Building Materials Exchange (BME) is to: Benefit low-income homeowners and the environment by providing new and re-usable building materials at an affordable price, and by educating people about home repairs.
For more information – Maine Housing and Building Materials Exchange (BME)
Bellows Fund – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Maine
The Elsie S. Bellows Fund was established in 1995 to provide assistive technology equipment to individuals with disabilities. Earnings from the principal of this fund are allocated on an annual basis by United Cerebral Palsy to UCP of Maine and other affiliates.
For more information – Bellows Fund of UPC of Maine
Speech Tablets for Apraxia Program
In this program from Apraxia Kids – Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America, qualified children with a diagnosis of apraxia of speech are provided with speech tablets and protective cases in order to assist with speech practice; use as a communication tool and educational support.
The program, was created in recognition of the volume and intensity of speech practice necessary for children with apraxia. Various tablet apps are designed to assist with speech practice in home and other environments. Additionally, many apps exist which can be used as communication tools or augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for children still struggling to be understood.
There are three funding cycles per year with deadlines: March 1, June 1 and November 1.
For more information – Speech Tablets for Apraxia (website down 1/14/19)
Affordable Financial loans
If you decide to borrow money to buy the AT you want.
In Maine, mPower Loans provides flexible loans for individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers.
Maine business owner can also borrow money to make their workplace more accessible to employees and customers.
The mPower Loans program provides more than just funding. mPower can also give you expert advice on adaptive equipment, accessibility design, and the access requirements of the Americans Disability Act (ADA).
For more information – mPower Loans program.
Digital Credit Union – Mobility Vehicle and Access Loans
Equipment, Home Modifications, and Vehicles with Devices to Aid People with Disabilities.
For more information – Digital Federal Credit Union – Other Loan Products or information on loans for adapted vehicles.
Maine Trust for People with Disabilities (MTPD)
The Maine Trust for People with Disabilities (MTPD) is Maine’s only nonprofit organization that offers parents, relatives and friends a convenient and economical way to establish and fund a special needs trust account for an individual who has a disability and who qualifies for public benefits, such as MaineCare or SSI. In addition, the MTPD offers individuals with disabilities the option to establish and fund their own accounts. The MTPD is a pooled special needs trust established in compliance with federal law.
These funds can be used to pay for such things as:
- Recreation and Entertainment.
- A car.
- Electronic devices – Assistive Technology.
- Appliances – Assistive Technology.
- Medical care and goods not covered by Medicaid.
- Other living expenses not covered by public benefits.
The following information comes from The ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC):
ABLE Accounts, which are tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families, were created as a result of the passage of the Stephen Beck Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 or better known as the ABLE Act. The beneficiary of the account is the account owner, and income earned by the accounts will not be taxed. Contributions to the account, which can be made by any person (the account beneficiary, family and friends), must be made using post-taxed dollars and will not be tax deductible for purposes of federal taxes, however some states may allow for state income tax deductions for contribution made to an ABLE account.
For the first time, eligible individuals and their families will be allowed to establish ABLE savings accounts that will largely not affect their eligibility for SSI, Medicaid and other public benefits. The legislation explains further that an ABLE account will, with private savings, “secure funding for disability-related expenses on behalf of designated beneficiaries with disabilities that will supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurance, Medicaid, SSI, the beneficiary’s employment and other sources.”
Maine ABLE Act
LD 1421 (HP 967) is a law directing the Treasurer of State to study the most effective options for Maine residents to participate in tax-advantaged savings accounts for persons with disabilities. It passed the House on 2/18/16 and the Senate on 2/23/16. It became law without the Governor LePage’s signature on 3/6/16.
ABLE Legislation: LD 1421 (HP 967) Resolution