Wheelchairs are not cheap, and if you need one, there is no question that you must get one. What can you do if you don’t have any money for a wheelchair? Luckily, there are a number of options such as charities and government programs designed to help. Additionally, just as with any item, creative, savvy shoppers may be able to find unusually good deals from off-beat sources. In this article, we present some smart tactics to help you score a free wheelchair. Read on to learn more.
Find Out What Your Insurance Will Cover
Naturally, if you have a good insurance program, that should be your first area of inquiry. Both Medicaid and Medicare Part B offer at least some coverage for wheelchairs deemed medically necessary. Of course, you must have a prescription from your doctor to get coverage.
Getting a free manual wheelchair should be fairly easy. If you need an electric wheelchair, you must meet a few precise requirements. For example, your doctor will need to document your disability and your need for an electric wheelchair in writing. He or she must be clear that an electric wheelchair will enable you to perform necessary activities of daily living (ADL).
Private insurance coverage varies, and it may not cover your costs entirely, but it should cover a good portion of your expense. Review your policy and check with your agent to see what assistance may be available. Note that your policy may not reference "wheelchairs" specifically, but if you see the term "Durable Medical Equipment" you should have coverage for a wheelchair.
Depending upon your situation, you may wish to check in with services that help seniors and/or people with disabilities. For example, your local Area Agency On Aging may be able to provide you with some good local referrals to either help you fund the purchase of a new wheelchair or locate a gently used one that will suit your purpose. Organizations that help people with disabilities, such as independent living centers, may also be able to set you in the right direction.
Other helping organizations, such houses of worship, may be able to help you with funding or simply help you find a suitable wheelchair that you can get for free. There are also international and national religion-based and secular organizations that provide restored or new wheelchairs to people in need who are unable to afford the purchase.
Among them are:
Outside of the United States, you can apply for a free wheelchair from the Free Wheelchair Mission. This is a Christian based charity that takes in unused wheelchairs and redistributes them to people in need outside of the US. Their website is
In and out of the US, the Wheelchair Foundation works hand-in-hand with Goodwill Industries, The Salvation Army and Catholic Charities. To be considered for their assistance, you can contact one of these organizations locally or visit their website at
Another good online connection is Lifenets Wheelchair Project. This is sort of a wheelchair-focused swap stop. It is simply a platform where people who have unused wheelchairs can list them for donation. You can browse the site for a wheelchair that suits your needs without providing any of your identifying information. If you find a chair that interests you, you’ll need to register an account so that you can get the contact info for the person listing the chair as available. The website address is:
Check Local Listings & Resources
If you don’t have any insurance coverage and don’t have the time or desire to deal with a helping agency, simply check your local listings of items offered for free. Look in your local newspaper. Check Craigslist and Facebook’s marketplace page for your area. Of course, when you do this you must exercise reasonable precautions to avoid problems such as scams and identity theft, but if you are relatively Internet savvy (or have someone helping you who is) you may be able to find something perfectly workable in this way.
Local nursing homes and assisted living homes are another little-known possible source for cheap or free manual wheelchairs. It is surprising how many of these places have a storage closet full of folded up wheelchairs and walkers that have fallen out of use for one reason or another. Taking a bit of time to make a few phone calls may be all that’s needed to find a free wheelchair or to be set on the right track to find one.
If you have the ability to check local thrift stores or even cruise garage sales, you may be able to find a manual wheelchair that is just almost free. This is an especially good option if you will only be using the chair for a short time, or if you just need it occasionally as a travel chair.
Checking private listings and garage sales is also a good option if (like the gentleman in the video below) you feel challenged by some activities but do not have a doctor’s prescription for a manual or electric wheelchair.
Creative Searching Reaps Results!
It can be very difficult to find any wheelchair with an affordable price tag. Fortunately, there are lots of options open to people who know how to look! Follow the tips presented here to research all of your options and identify all of your resources so that you can get a wheelchair for free (or at least nearly free).