Many might not know, but there is plenty of help available for people with disabilities and special needs in more places than expected. Various discounts and services can be had without spending top dollar, but instead saving hundreds or even thousands.
Read on to discover some ways to tap into those savings:
A lot businesses and retailers offer benefits and discounts to disabled, but it’s not widely advertised, so always ask.
Governmental and non-profit organizations require a proof of your condition before extending their services, so always have a doctor’s note or any other form of identification.
It is very important to get familiar with what discounts are available to you locally. Reach out to local chapter of the non-profit organization that is related to your illness or condition and get their advice about friendly places and help available.
Those organizations always have the best knowledge of where to find affordable care, medical supplies, equipment, and even support services. You can often get supplies and equipment through them as they often have the best rates directly from providers.
All the local and national organizations can easily be found online.
Internet is definitely your friend when it comes to finding the best discounts. DisabledDiscounts.com is a great source for thousands of discounts all over the country. You can find them by your location and by category as everything is separated into 30 categories. You will find everything - from technology and tax discounts to entertainment and education deals.
Another two sources for financial help programs are Benefits.gov and BenefitsCheckUp.org. Disability.gov is a great tool finding local programs and services for people with disabilities.
Let’s take a look at what discounts can be available:
- Recreation – a lot of movie theaters, museums, zoos, aquariums, and theme parks offer discounts to handicapped people and their companions. National parks and recreational lands are always free with “America the Beautiful Access Pass”.
- Taxes – many tax deductions and credits are available for disabled applicants, you just have to understand the system or get accounting help. Disabled home owners can apply for property tax reductions.
- Utilities – most utility companies offer reduced price for elderly, disabled, and low income people. This includes gas, electricity, water, trash, and phone.
- Communication devices – tedpa.org has a list of companies in 47 states that offer equipment distribution programs and special phones with people with hearing problems.
- Home modifications – if you are in a need of a wheelchair ramp, handrails or grab bar, search for various national, state, local or non-profit organization to help with a cost of installation.
- Travel – Amtrak is known to offer 15% off for a disabled passenger and one companion. Always ask when booking travel tickets from other providers.
- Reading – vision-impaired people and those that have reading problems can get free audio books, magazines, and audio equipment from Library of Congress through “Talking Books” program. National Federation of Blind has a free magazine and newspaper reading service at nfbnewslineonline.org.
There are quite a few ways to receive a lot free stuff if you live with disabilities and chronic diseases. Free stuff ranges from shampoos to stoves. Take a look at some things you can get if you know where to look for:
Free non-prescription health products
If you are covered by Medicare and Medicaid because of low income with SSI or SSDI, chances are that you have an annual allowance for free health related products to be delivered directly to your home. Those products include medical equipment, vitamins and supplements, allergy and cold remedies, pain killers, digestive medicine, dental care products, and first aid. All of those have to be over-the-counter.
This program is available in Florida, New York, Texas, Ohio, and some other states. Catalogs and websites are given to participants to ordering free stuff from. No taxes or shipping is charged. The allowance can be up to $240 annually. These programs are very beneficial not only for recipients, but to state and health care providers as it helps preventing costly emergency room visits because people have access to various medications.
Ask your health care plan provider if you have OTC benefit access if you are covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
The United States Department of Energy offers Home Weatherization program for low income homes. The program issues government grants for replacement of broken furnaces, refrigerators, freezers, and stoves with energy-efficient ones. Window, roof, and HVAC fixes are also available at no cost to you. The priority is given to people receiving SSI.
The program helps low income people, provides jobs, and ensures that existing housing is maintained.
Free smartphone with 1000 free minutes per month
Low-income families on SSI and SSDI can now enjoy a free smartphone and up to 1000 free monthly minutes versus previously offered flip phone with 250 minutes. This is due to Obamaphone program improvements and can make a difference when talking to doctors, service providers, and staying in touch with family.
Check out Q Link Wireless for the best deals available: free smartphone, 1000 minutes, 1 GB of data, and unlimited text messages.
ConnectHome Nation government initiative services low income homes living on SSI and SSDI income and brings free broadband internet to them. The program is available in 28 cities with plans to offer free or discounted internet to 350,000 families by 2020.
You can see if you and your home is eligible by visiting connecthomeusa.org.
America the Beautiful Pass
Low income families or people with disabilities are encouraged to get out and enjoy what the country has to offer. Over 2,000 Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and US Fish & Wildlife Service sites are free to enter with “America the Beautiful Pass”. All activities and services are included. You can fish, swim, hike, camp, ride, and picnic any time without restrictions.
Normally $80 per year pass is totally free for approved program beneficiaries. Over the lifetimes this pass can save you way over $1,000. The pass also allows free entrance for up to 3 people, so take friends, family, or caretakers with you.
Some of the most popular monuments that are handicapped-friendly and free with the pass are Grand Canyon National Park, Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, Yellowstone National Park, Colorado National Monument, and Yosemite National Park.
Many other famous sites have handicapped-friendly guide tours for people with mobility limitations.
Go to www.recreation.gov to apply for this pass.
Free job training
If your disabilities don’t stand in your way of getting a job or career, the Social Security Administration offers free Ticket to Work job training program. Some jobs are with the government where handicapped applicants won’t have to compete with healthy people for the position. State Vocational Rehabilitation and some private partnerships curate this program to help SSI and SSDI recipients become more financially independent. Thanks to this program, you can still have free Medicare for up to 8 years of employment.
Visit choosework.ssa.gov for more information.