For people in wheelchairs, attaining a wheelchair accessible vehicle can be much harder than it is to attain a non-accessible vehicle. People in wheelchairs need special seating options. Even people with partial mobility will have to have modifications done to their vans and cars in order to comfortably access them for driving or riding as a passenger.
One of the hardest parts of getting a wheelchair accessible vehicle deals with financing. Due to the high cost of wheelchair vehicles and the struggles that many disabled people face concerning employment and living on government disability or social security, for many, a wheelchair van is something they want but are just not able to afford without help.
The good news is that there are financing options for the disabled person who needs a wheelchair vehicle. While it may take a little bit longer to attain a vehicle with access for the handicapped, it is not impossible. All you need is some time to explore the possibilities and go through the process and you could have an accessible van in no time.
- Do your research on pricing for wheelchair vans and modifications like wheelchair lifts and ramps - The number one reason people in wheelchairs do not have access to transport is because they cannot afford it. However, there are services that can help you attain a vehicle if you have a plan that is well thought out. You need to know the correct pricing for a van that is accessible and what it would require (any special features) to be suitable for your disability. Once you have a clue as to pricing, you can start finding grants or leasing options that will help you attain a van of your own.
The homework you do will also help you to determine fair pricing. With wheelchair vans, you need to look at two essential costs. The first cost is the cost of the van itself and the second cost is the modifications that are necessary to accommodate the wheelchair. For some people, it may be an option to purchase the van without the modifications and have them equipped with a wheelchair ramp or a wheelchair lift; adding ramps and lifts can be done by a local company if the price is drastically cheaper. While this may give you two loans as opposed to one, it could be easier to find funding for a wheelchair lift or ramp as opposed to the cost of the wheelchair van, and this could save you a significant amount of money in the long run.
- Seek grants for wheelchair vehicles - There are numerous nonprofit agencies that offer grants for funding a new wheelchair accessible van for a non-ambulatory person. Of course, as with anything free, you will need to do a little digging to find these places. However, there are many nonprofits out there. If you have a common disability, it is likely there is an organization out there that will help you.
For example, the Muscular Dystrophy Family Foundation might be able to help if you have Muscular Dystrophy or United Cerebral Palsy may be able to help you find resources if you have CP. Your other option would be to find nonprofits that are not specific to a disability. Some of these options would include the Jaycees, the Masons, and other philanthropic groups. Keep in mind that those who want grants must request them in the proper manner. This will speed things up considerably and give you a better chance at getting the wheelchair van you need.
- Consider governmental help - Depending on your disability, if you are on Social Security Income (SSI), you may be eligible for the PASS program. PASS stands for Plan to Achieve Self Success. On the PASS plan, you create a plan to help achieve a better standard of living for yourself. For example, you might say you need a wheelchair van to go to school or to become employed outside of the home. The money for the van payment is sent to you each month so that you can handle your payment.
The payment will continue to be paid in full or part, depending on the price, as long as you continue to work toward your goal. This is a wonderful option for people who are unable to secure funding for their wheelchair access through a nonprofit agency.
- Secure traditional financing - If you are planning to buy a wheelchair accessible van from a car dealership, you may be able to attain financing, depending on your credit and ability to pay your loan. Common loans range from three to five years. However, when purchasing a wheelchair accessible van, you may be able to get financing for longer loan terms.
For example, some financing companies that work with accessible car dealerships will allow you to secure a loan for six to ten years. Generally, if you are purchasing a used wheelchair van, you will end up with shorter terms than if you are buying a new van.
- Consider a fundraiser - If you have considered all of the above options and still find yourself in need of a wheelchair van, then you might want to try and hold a fundraiser. If you have friends and family, you can easily plan a special dinner or event for your town. As each person/family comes to the event and offers money, this can go into a fund for a wheelchair ramp or lift. Fundraising ideas are excellent and can range from walks to dinners to selling things for profit. If you have the means, you could have a celebrity auction as they are generally very popular.
While securing money for a wheelchair accessible vehicle can be time-consuming, it is often necessary for people who cannot use a standard vehicle. The important thing to remember is that it is not impossible. You can end up in a new wheelchair van that is all yours with a little perseverance and hard work.