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What Is The Best Car For A Wheelchair User?

Wheelchairs help many people to remain independent – but a big part of that independence comes from accessing transportation that can accommodate your wheelchair. That’s why it’s so important for wheelchair users to find a vehicle that you not only like, but that’s accessible too.

The good news is that there are many cars on the market today that are accessible to those in wheelchairs. Here are some of the best cars for wheelchair users that you might want to consider.

The Benefits Of Each Car Type For Wheelchair Users

If you’ve already started your new car search, you know that there are many choices out there. With all of the things wheelchair users have to take into consideration, there are definitely benefits to each car type on the market today. Here’s a breakdown:

Minivans

These are a great all-around vehicle for wheelchair users since they have so much room. You can find them at a variety of price points, and they provide quick access and have high safety ratings. You can get a minivan with either a side or rear entry, too, which is a definite bonus for ease of use when out and about with your wheelchair. A minivan is one of the best cars for wheelchair transfers, too.

Full-size vans

Most full-size vans will come with a lift instead of a ramp. These systems can be a lot more expensive than other types of cars, but they have a lot of room, which some people need not only to accommodate their wheelchair but their family as well.

SUVs

This type of car is very popular since it is great for off-road driving and driving in inclement weather. An SUV can be more expensive than other options, but does tend to be much roomier than a minivan, with a lot of cargo space.

Cars

Cars are normally the most affordable option but offer the least amount of extra space. However, they’re low to the ground, which is good for transferring. They’re easy to handle, too, which makes them a great option for new drivers.

Trucks

Trucks are powerful and great for towing, but may not be the best option for wheelchair users since they’re high off the ground. The wheelchair, once stored in the back, can also be exposed to the elements.

Dr Handicap - disabled drivers
Image by Why Kei on Unsplash: Wondering what cars can take a wheelchair? Let’s investigate.

What is the best car for wheelchairs?

Let’s take a look at some specific models of the best wheelchair-accessible vehicles on the market right now.

Ford C-Max

This car has plenty of room for both passengers and drivers. It features high, wide doors to give wheelchair users plenty of space to transfer and a lot of room in the back for mobility scooters or wheelchairs.

The C-Max can also be adapted for wheelchair users by adding seat lifts, wheelchair hoists, pedals, and hand controls. Plus, it’s relatively affordable, which is always a bonus!

Jeep Grand Cherokee

If you like to have a little oomph in your engine, you can’t go wrong with the Jeep Grand Cherokee. This small SUV can be fitted with power seats, tie-downs, running boards, and lifts for wheelchair users thanks to Chrysler’s Automobility Program. Conversions under this program qualify the owner for a reimbursement for up to $1,000, which is a nice bonus.

Subaru Forester

This small SUV is one of the most popular cars on the market, for both wheelchair users and non-wheelchair users. But for those in a wheelchair in particular, this SUV offers a lot of safety and comfort. It comes standard with all-wheel drive and automatic transmission, and is one of the most dependable SUVs you can find year after year.

Every Subaru can undergo modifications from the factory to make it more accessible, such as foot or hand control and pedal extensions. The hatchback also makes it easy to store your wheelchair.

Hyundai Sonata

This is a simple but dependable car for wheelchair users. It’s a midsize car that is reliable and comes with a great warranty. It’s easy to access since it’s low to the ground, and comes with features such as a smart system so you’ll never have to ask for direction again.

Dr Handicap - Toyota
Image by Dima Fedorov on Unsplash: What is the best car for wheelchairs? That comes down to your personal needs as a wheelchair user.

Honda Odyssey

If you’re in the market for a minivan, the Odyssey is one of the most reliable you can find. It gets great fuel economy and is easy to handle. Even though it’s a minivan, the floors are low for ease of entry and it can be modified easily for wheelchair users.

Kia Soul

If you’re looking for a car that’s a little quirky, then the boxy Kia Soul fits the bill. It looks compact from the outside but is actually quite roomy on the inside, with high ceilings and low floors. It also has wide doors for easy entry and exit. Plus, the low price makes it affordable for almost anyone.

If you’re looking for a new car, this list should get you off to a good start to finding the best car for a wheelchair user!

Featured image by Marianne Bos on Unsplash

Will Medicare Pay For A Wheelchair Access Van?

Medicare helps a lot of people, especially those with disabilities. Still, it changes quite frequently and what was once covered may not be covered anymore.

Many people with mobility issues need a van to transport themselves and their equipment where they need to go. But this is not an inexpensive purchase. The question many people want to know is: will Medicare pay for a wheelchair access van? Read on to find out more!

Who Does Medicare Cover?

In the United States, Medicare is a health program for people over the age of 65 and people under that age with a disability. It provides healthcare coverage so you can see a doctor and receive medication. The real question for those with disabilities is: will it help to cover the things needs to improve your personal mobility?

Dr Handicap - health care
Image by Bill Oxford on Unsplash: Will Medicare pay for a wheelchair access van? Maybe – if you have Part C.

Will Medicare Pay For A Wheelchair Accessible Van?

Medicare is made up of four parts and each part has a separate function. These parts are:

  • Part A – Covers skilled nursing care, hospice, and hospital services
  • Part B – Covers outpatient services
  • Part C – Also called Medicare Advantage; allows a patient to choose a health care plan with a private health care provider and may help with the costs associated with transportation (but you’ll need to check with your provider)
  • Part D – Covers prescriptions

There’s no guarantee that Part C will help with any costs associated with a new van. As you can see, Parts A, B, and D have no coverage for mobility aids such as a handicap accessible van.

Will Medicare Help Pay For A Wheelchair Lift On A Vehicle?

The answer to this question is, unfortunately, no. While many people depend on Medicare to help cover their health care costs, it does not deem mobility devices as a covered expense. Medicare is not meant to be a full-coverage option of health care for most people. Instead, it is meant to be a foundation from which you can build a plan that helps to cover your health care costs.

Does Medicare Cover Power Wheelchairs or Scooters?

Power wheelchairs and scooters are classified under Medicare as power-operated vehicles. That’s not the same as a personal mobility vehicle, which is what they consider a handicap accessible van. Medicare does pay for power-operated vehicles, such as a power wheelchair. But even with a prescription for durable medical equipment from your treating physician, Medicare will not cover a personal mobility vehicle.

If you’re looking to get a power-operated vehicle, it’s important to know that a prior authorization is required before it will cover the purchase. If your doctor prescribes a scooter, for example, you must have the durable medical equipment device supplier submit a request on your behalf to Medicare before it is covered. If you buy it first then apply for reimbursement, then you may find yourself in a tough spot.

What About Medicare’s Medigap Coverage?

Medicare offers something called Medigap. This is an additional health insurance plan that can be purchased from a private health care provider that will cover things Medicare will not cover, such as deductibles and co-pays.

It’s important to note that Medigap doesn’t allow for additional coverage such as vision or dental and many won’t cover prescription drugs, either. Medigap also won’t cover accessible van purchases.

Dr Handicap - research
Image by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash: Medicare grants for wheelchair vans are out there, you simply need to do your research to find them.

Who Can Help With Accessible Van Purchases?

If you’re disabled and need an accessible van to provide transportation, there are programs out there that can help. Grants are available nationwide, as well as grants in specific states and for people with specific conditions. Doing a search for these grants may help to get you at least some of the money you need for an accessible van purchase.

A couple of options that can help pay for your accessible van include:

  • The US Department of Veteran’s Affairs has accessible van grants available for veterans
  • Special financing options from accessible van dealers

If you or someone you love is struggling to find the resources for an accessible van, Medicare may not be able to help, but there is help out there. Don’t give up if you are having issues finding assistance, because this is a problem many of those in wheelchairs must contend with, and help is available.

Featured image by Dave Kim on Unsplash

7 Things You Should Know About Disabled Parking If You’re In a Wheelchair

Millions of Americans use a wheelchair at some point in their lifetime. Some people are long-term wheelchair users, while others spend only a few weeks in one due to a temporary disability. Knowing how to park when you’re in a wheelchair, as well as your disabled parking rights, is important.

The large majority of American wheelchair users are capable of driving, especially with the impressive array of vehicle adaptations for wheelchair-using disabled drivers available today. Technology, in the form of vehicle adaptations and modifications, as well as handy smartphone apps, is making driving easier than ever for wheelchair users.

Several considerations should be taken into account when you are in a wheelchair and using disabled parking. What type of disabled parking permit should you get? What are the legal regulations regarding disabled parking spaces? How do you get in and out of your vehicle safely? What technology can you make use of as a wheelchair user? How do you apply for a disabled parking permit as a wheelchair user?

Read on for seven key things you need to know about handicap parking as a wheelchair user.

Dr Handicap - wheelchair user
Image by on Marcus Aurelius on Pexels: Disabled parking for wheelchair users can make life a whole lot easier.

1. A Wide Range Of Injuries Can Necessitate Wheelchair Usage

People need to use a wheelchair for a wide array of reasons. Some people are disabled for life, whereas others use a wheelchair for only a short period of time. Lots of disabled parking permit-holders use a wheelchair.

Needing to use a wheelchair, for any reason, is a qualifying condition in and of itself for a disabled parking permit. Some of the most common reasons that disabled parking permit-holders use a wheelchair are:

  • Amputation
  • Arthritis
  • Broken bones
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Lung disease
  • Neurological diseases
  • Orthopedic conditions

2. Several Types Of Disabled Parking Permits Are Available

Wheelchair users can avail of several different types of disabled parking permit. The exact types of permit available varies state-by-state, but all states have some versions of the following disabled parking permit variations:

  • Permanent disabled parking placard or license plate. This is for people with a long-term disability. Many wheelchair users fall into this category, such as amputees and people with a neurological disease.
  • Temporary disabled parking placard. This is for people whose disability is expected to be short-term. Wheelchair users in this category include people with broken bones and other temporary injuries, and in some states, pregnant people.
  • Disabled Veterans license plates. DV plates are for people whose disability is related to their military service.
  • Organizational placards and plates. These are for organizations that transport disabled people.

3. Wheelchair Accessible Parking Spaces Are Regulated By The ADA

The Americans With Disabilities Act covers the rules and regulations regarding universal access parking spaces. Some of the rules the ADA stipulates are:

  • There must be a certain number of disabled spaces in any parking facility. (For example, in a facility with 1–25 parking spaces there must be one disabled space, and in a facility with 26–50 spaces there must be two disabled spaces.)
  • Medical facilities must have additional disabled parking spaces.
  • Disabled spaces must connect to the shortest accessible route to the building or facility they serve.
  • Disabled spaces must be eight feet wide and van-accessible spaces must be 11 feet wide. Access aisles for either type of space must be five feet wide.
  • Disabled spaces must be clearly marked by the universal access symbol.
Dr Handicap - disabled parking place
Image by David Magalhães on Unsplash: Handicap parking spaces are regulated by the ADA.

4. It’s Important To Know How To Enter And Sit In Your Vehicle Safely

As a wheelchair driver, it’s important that you are careful at all times when getting in and out of your vehicle.

Some of the most important recommendations when getting in and out of your vehicle as a wheelchair user include:

  • If possible, get into the vehicle’s seat, which is designed for maximum crash safety.
  • If you need to stay in your wheelchair, make sure it is a WCl9-compliant wheelchair (which means it is designed for use as a vehicle seat, has a safety belt, and has been crash-tested).
  • Position your seatbelt correctly.
  • Safely anchor your wheelchair using a four-point tie-down system, whether you are sitting in the wheelchair or in the vehicle seat.

5. Vehicle Adaptations Can Make Life Easier For Disabled Drivers

Vehicle adaptations for wheelchair users are improving all the time. Some of the most useful adaptations for wheelchair users are:

  • Hand controls
  • Adaptive electronic controls
  • Wheelchair ramps and lifts
  • Lowered floors and raised roofs
  • Steering wheel extensions
  • Transfer seats

6. Smartphone Disabled Parking Apps Can Help You Find Parking

Several apps are available to make life easier for wheelchair users looking for disabled parking.

Wheelmate is an example of a useful app that helps you to find wheelchair accessible parking and restrooms near you.

7. Applying For Disabled Parking Is Easy

Getting a handicap parking permit when you’re in a wheelchair is an easy process. Simply go to Dr. Handicap and set up an online consultation with a doctor, who will verify your disability and recommend the best type of disabled parking permit for you.

They will write you a letter of recommendation and you will have your own disabled parking permit within a few weeks.

Featured image by Marcus Aurelius on Pexels

The Six Dos and Don’ts of Handicap Parking