Getting Started Funding an Accessible Vehicle
You have a need: funding an accessible vehicle. And you have questions: how do you even get started with such a large task? Even more so: how do I get chosen out of a list of applicants?
How to Get Funding for a Handicap Vehicle
Research Handicap Vehicle Funding Options
Tamara Simmons, author of "The Funding Guide for Children with Disabilities," says the first step should always be research.
"You need to get a cost from the service or equipment provider...It is common for a funding source to require a discount, so when you call for the quote, let the store know you may be purchasing the product through a funder and ask if they will offer a discount."
Calling a dealer or our Customer Experience Group (800-488-0359) will allow you to find pricing for exactly the vehicle or lift you are looking for. You'll also want to be sure your nearby dealer has technicians trained in the repair or maintenance of the product in question.
Gather Important Medical and Insurance Documents
Keeping yourself organized and making sure certain documents are at the ready will boost your efficiency in filling out applications for wheelchair van grants. Simmons lists four documents as being the most important:
- Previous year's W-2s
- Most recent pay stubs (both yours and your spouse's, if applicable)
- Copies of insurance information
- Medical History Sheet including diagnostic codes, list of surgeries, etc.
Not all grants or funds will need this information, but some will.
Save Your Denial Letters
This might come as a surprise to some, but it's important to secure a denial letter from your insurance company. Most often, the assistive technology in question will be denied by your insurance company. (If not, great! You are on the road to getting the monetary assistance you need.) It's likely you'll need a denial letter to apply to certain funders, and the process to get it can take a while. Calling ahead and explaining what you need may speed up the process.
Write Your Grant Application Letter
Be specific in your application letter for assistance. Don't just say that an accessible vehicle will help you get around easier: that's true for everyone. Explain your challenges and interests and illustrate how this specific vehicle will meet them.
Explore Your Funding Options
Now you are ready to research and apply for grants and funding. There are several kinds of grants: some are available to anyone, some are specific to a region, and others are specific to the type of disability, your age, or whether you've ever served the U.S. Armed Forces.
BraunAbility has an extensive list where you can search by state to find applicable grants and funding for an accessible vehicle purchase. Also be sure to check out NMEDA's listing of funding sources.
Everyone has a way to approach fundraising that feels right for them. But for those just starting out, give these starter steps a try!