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Saturday August 30, 2014

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

How to Get a Medicare Covered Power Scooter or Wheelchair

What’s the process for getting Medicare to pay for an electric mobility scooter or power wheelchair? My 76-year-old mother has arthritis in her knees and hips and has a difficult time getting around anymore.

Getting an electric-powered mobility scooter or wheelchair for your mom that’s covered by original Medicare starts with a visit to her doctor’s office. If eligible, Medicare will pay 80% of the cost after she meets her $147 Part B deductible. She will be responsible for the remaining 20%. Here’s a breakdown of how it works.

Make an Appointment


Your first step is to call your mom’s doctor and schedule a Medicare required, face-to-face mobility evaluation to determine her need for a power wheelchair or scooter. For your mom to be eligible, she’ll need to meet all of the following conditions:

  • Her health condition makes moving around her home very difficult even with the help of a cane, walker or manual wheelchair.
  • She has significant problems performing activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, getting in or out of a bed or chair or using the bathroom.
  • She is able to safely operate and get on and off the scooter or wheelchair or have someone with her who is always available to help her safely use the device.

If eligible, your mom’s doctor will determine what kind of mobility equipment she’ll need based on her condition, usability in her home and ability to operate it.

It’s also important to know that Medicare coverage is dependent on your mom needing a scooter or wheelchair in her home. If her claim is based on needing it outside her home, it will be denied as not medically necessary because the wheelchair or scooter will be considered a leisure item.

Where to Shop


If the doctor determines your mom needs a power scooter or wheelchair, he or she will fill out a written order or certificate of medical necessity (CMN) form for her. She must take the CMN to a Medicare approved supplier within 45 days. If your mother happens to live in one of Medicare’s competitive bidding areas, you’ll need to get her device from specific suppliers approved by Medicare. To find approved suppliers and competitive bidding suppliers in your area, visit medicare.gov/supplier or call 800-633-4227.

Once you choose an approved supplier, they will send a representative to assess your mom’s home. The representative will measure her doorways, thresholds and overall space to ensure she gets the appropriate mobility device.

Financial Assistance


If your mom has a Medicare supplemental policy, it may pick up some or all of the 20% cost of the scooter or wheelchair that’s not covered by Medicare. If, however, she doesn’t have supplemental insurance and can’t afford the 20%, she may be able to get help through the Medicare Savings Programs. Call your local Medicaid office for eligibility information.

If you find that your mom is not eligible for a Medicare covered scooter or wheelchair and she can’t afford to purchase one, renting can be a much cheaper short-term solution. Talk to a supplier about this option.

For more information, call Medicare at 800-633-4227 and request a copy of publication #11046 “Medicare’s Wheelchair and Scooter Benefit.” You can also read it online at medicare.gov/publications/pubs/pdf/11046.pdf.

Medicare Advantage


If your mom happens to have a Medicare Advantage plan (like an HMO or PPO), she’ll need to call her plan to find out the specific steps she needs to take to get a wheelchair or scooter. Many Advantage plans may have specific suppliers within the plan’s network they’ll require her to use.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published August 22, 2014
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