Funding of Vehicle Modifications & Modified Vehicles
Helpful Articles: The following articles provide good overviews of what you need to know before you invest in a vehicle or vehicle modification. They also provide important tips on driving and vehicle upkeep.
- Adapting Motor Vehicles For People With Disabilities: Brochure on factors to consider in selecting vehicle modifications.More information at http//www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/adaptive/brochure/brochure.html
- National MS Society – Buying an Adapted Vehicle
Article on selecting vehicle modifications and modified vehicles. More information at http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/mobility-and-accessibility/buying-an-adapted-vehicle/.
- SmartEdge by GMAC: You’re in the driver’s seat with options. This is a tutorial on financing options when purchasing a new or used vehicle. It also includes information about the choices you have regarding additional products available and how the choices you make often determine what you pay.More information at http://www.smartedgebygmac.com/SmartEdge/en/automotive/financing_options/
Loans: Loans are the most common way to pay for vehicle modifications and/or modified vehicles. Ok, Before you start shopping, check with your bank or credit union re what rates they have available. Most dealers also offer some type of financing. To see if you are getting the best deal, compare rates for auto loans at: http://www.bankrate.com. Other resources include:
- Washington Access Fund: Provides low interest loans up to $10,000 for adaptive technology & home & vehicle accessibility modifications. Willing to work with low income families to help them qualify through loan guarantees and other mechanisms. Voice: 206-328-5116, Toll Free: 877-428-5116. TTY: 206-494-4775. http://www.aapd.com. For an additional $5.00 deposit, you can join the Digital Federal Credit Union (http://www.dcu.org) which offers Access & Mobility Loans of up to $100,000 with 72 months to repay. Particularly appropriate option for families with excellent credit records since rate depends upon credit rating. You can join both organizations at the Credit Union’s website: http://www.dcu.org/DCU_aapd_application.pdf. 202-457-0046 (V/TTY) 800-840-8844 (Toll Free V/TTY).
- Express Credit Union: can research the average retail values of vehicles and pre-approve you for your loan before you buy. Express CU offers loans for new or used vehicles, and loans can be pre-approved for up to 60 days. GAP (Guaranteed Auto Protection) Insurance, protects you against financial loss in the event that your car is damaged beyond repair or stolen and never recovered. Express CU also offers loans for RVs, motorcycles and boats. (206) 622-1850 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Funding Sources
Private Insurance: Will occasionally cover vehicle modifications. If your insurance policy includes coverage for “durable medical equipment,” or prosthetics, check list of “exclusions” to see if vehicle modifications specifically “excluded.” If not, check definitions of DME & prosthetics to see if you can argue that vehicle modifications should be covered as DME or prosthetics.
Vocational Rehabilitation WAC 388-891-0665: If you need a vehicle for employment and you are a client of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, talk with your DVR counselor. DVR may pay for the vehicle modifications (but generally not the vehicle) if it is written into your Individual Plan For Employment. Here are some of the conditions that must first be met:
- DVR does not have a question about your driving safety
- Your disability is stable or slowly progressive and not likely to impair your driving ability in the future, if you plan to drive the vehicle.
- You and/or a family member is the registered and/or legal owner of the vehicle.
- You have a current driver’s license and vehicle license with required endorsements for you and/or family member(s) who will operate the vehicle.
- If a used vehicle is to be modified, you have provided documentation of an inspection from a certified or journey level auto mechanic that verifies the vehicle is in good condition and capable of being modified.
- You have had an evaluation from a vehicle modification specialist unless the only modifications requested are: placement of a wheelchair lift, ramp, or scooter lift and tie downs for passenger access only;replacement of hand controls; Wheelchair carriers; or Other minor driving aids.
- You have vehicle insurance adequate to cover the cost of replacement for loss or damage, including the cost of the modification.
- You have demonstrated or provided documentation that verifies you and/or family member(s) designated as a driver can safely operate the vehicle as modified.
Department of Labor & Industries: RCW 51.36.020(8)(a): If the vehicle modifications are needed because of an industrial injury resulting in amputation or paralysis, L&I (or employer if self-insured) may pay up to 50% of the state’s average annual wage towards to cost of vehicle modifications. An additional $4000 may be allocated at the discretion of the Department.
Veterans Administration, 38 USC 39:Veterans and service members may be eligible for a one-time payment of not more than $11,000 toward the purchase of an automobile or other conveyance for certain service connected injuries. They may also be eligible for adaptive equipment, and for repair, replacement, or reinstallation required because of disability, and for the safe operation of a vehicle purchased with VA assistance. To apply, contact a VA regional office at 1-800-827-1000 or the nearest VA medical center.
- Seattle: 2230 8th Avenue, 98121 (206-553-2706)
- Spokane: W. 1708 Mission St., 99201 (509-327-0274)
- Tacoma: 4916 Center St., Suite E, 98409 (253-565-7038)
Pass Plans: PASS Plans allow you to set aside income for a short or long term employment goal (which may have an educational component). Income set aside can be used to help you keep or qualify for SSI benefits and Medicaid. A quick guide to PASS plans can be found at: http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/11017.html#1. You can get assistance in determining eligibility and applying for a PASS plan through a Benefits Planning Assistance Office. BPAO planners in Washington include the Employment Security Department which serves all counties except for King and Kitsap Counties (Phone: 866-497-9443) and Positive Solutions which serves King County (206-322-8181) and Kitsap County (360-405-0620).
Tax Deductions: If the vehicle is needed for medical or employment purposes, some or all of the cost may be deductible as a medical expense (IRS Publication 502) or impairment related work expense (IRS Publication 529). Check with your tax preparer or go to http://www.irs.gov and search for these publications or Publication 3966 which provides an overview of potentially relevant tax deductions for people with disabilities.
Most vehicle manufacturers offer rebates – typically up to $1000 — to cover part of the cost of needed modifications. Some companies restrict rebates to brand new vehicles; others cover vehicles up to five years old so check with your particular manufacturer. Here is a sampling of websites.
- Ford Motors: : http://www.fordmobilitymotoring.com Up to $1000 for cost of installed equipment on new Ford motor vehicles.
- General Motors & Saturns: http://www.gm.com/automotive/vehicle_shopping/gm_mobility/”: up to $1000 for adaptations to new GM vehicles (within 12 months of purchase). Also, two extra years of standard OnStar2 service, at no additional cost: http://www.gmmobility.com/mobility-reimbursements/” (within 6 months of purchase).
- Honda: : http://automobiles.honda.com/info/mobility_program up to $1000 for vehicle adaptations
- Lexus: http://www.lexus.com/models/GS/accessories/mobility_program.html: up to $1000 for adaptations to vehicles years 2001 and newer
- Toyota: http://www.toyotamobility.com/: up to $1000 for adaptations to purchased or leased vehicles 2001 and later models.
- Volvo: http://www.volvocars.com/us/sales services/sales/volvo_mobility_program/pages/default.aspxReceive up to $1000 in financial assistance toward the cost of adding adaptive equipment to an eligible new Volvo or up to $200 on alert hearing devices.