I have a 98-year-old father who can still get around; however...

1 answer | Last updated: Jun 29, 2010
Heyreds asked...

I have a 98-year-old father who can still get around; however, when we go out he gets tired quickly. He has dementia related to his age. Can we get a wheelchair for him from his Medicare?


Expert Answers



Medicare can cover most (usually 80 percent) of the cost of a wheelchair, if your father qualifies. Medicare Part B can pay either to rent or buy a wheelchair if prescribed by your father's doctor and if "medically necessary" for him to get around. But the catch is that he has to need it not just for being outside, but to get around the house, too. Otherwise, it's not considered "medically necessary."  For an explanation of the rules regarding wheelchairs, look at Medicare's publication Medicare Coverage of Durable Medical Equipment and Other Devices.

If your father's doctor prescribes a wheelchair and Medicare approves it, you have to get it from a Medicare-approved medical equipment supplier. To find the Medicare-approved suppliers in the area where your father lives, go the durable equipment suppliers page on the Medicare web site.

When investigating wheelchairs with different suppliers, don't let your father sign an agreement with a supplier until he or his doctor has received written authorization for the chair directly from Medicare. You don't want him to get stuck with an expensive equipment contract that Medicare winds up refusing to pay for.