How to Make the Best of Savings For Persons With Disabilities (PWD)
Annually households with an adult with a work-related disability require, on average, 28 percent more income than a household without an individual with a disability. Yet, that is just the data for individuals with work-related disabilities.
With that information in mind, the statement that living life with a disability can be expensive should not come as a surprise. However, here is the good news, if you know where to look there are a plethora of disability discounts available to help offset costs.
Are you ready to start saving? Keep reading to find out more about discounts available to you.
Key Notes on Disability Discounts
Not all discounts are created equal. There are various things you should keep in mind when you look for disability discounts and savings that are available to you.
Watch for Scams
While there are many disability discounts available, it is important to be on the lookout for scams. Unfortunately, many scammers have used the Coronavirus Pandemic as an opportunity to scam people.
The National Disability Institute gives information on scams related to COVID-19. In addition, they offer information on how to report these scams.
Local versus National Discounts
Some of the discounts you will find are on the National level, meaning that it does not matter where you live. However, there are other discounts that are location-specific. For example, if you are looking for help with your utility bills many communities have programs that are only open to that county or city.
Before you apply for discounts make sure to check the Eligibility Requirements. Some programs require certain documentation or are only open to select people. Before you waste your time applying for a program you do not qualify for be sure to read all the Eligibility Requirements.
Not every organization will provide discounts for individuals with disabilities but they might have accessibility options. Calling ahead before going will allow you to find out if they do in fact offer discounts.
If a discount is not available calling still allows you to explore what accessibility options and if there is a cost associated.
Coupons and Promo Codes
When there are no discounts available spend some time planning and look at general discounts and coupons that are available. There are various ways to save even if it is not through special discounts that are offered to those with disabilities.
Use Local Resources
Local Developmental Boards of Disabilities can often offer information about discounts and programs available in your area. Connect with your local Developmental Board of Disabilities. Check out their website and see what they have to offer in regards to resources.
Other community groups such as Parents Helping Parents can also help with finding discounts and resources. If you are connected with a Case Worker talk with your caseworker about options that are available.
Knowing the costs of living with a disability are expensive it is important to plan as much as possible for this. Whether you are the parent of a child with a disability or an adult with a disability there are things you can start doing today.
Know your Rights
Knowledge is a powerful tool. Knowing your rights can save you money and time. Individuals with Disabilities are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Understanding how this impacts you or your child is imperative.
In addition, if you are the parent of a child with a disability they have certain rights when it comes to education. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act covers these rights. Understanding the rights your child has in an educational setting will allow you to be their best advocate.
Whether you are an adult who has become disabled or the parent of a child with a disability there is the possibility of lost income. For adults, it could be that your disability prevents you from being able to do your job even with accommodations.
Note: if you can still do your job with reasonable accommodations the Job Accommodation Network is a great free resource that gives accommodation ideas.
For parents with children with disabilities, it could be that you need to reduce your hours to care for your child. If you find yourself in a position where you are unable to work there are free tools such as the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool. This tool allows you to explore what kind of Social Security benefits you may be eligible for.
Utilize Grants and Scholarships
Knowing that the cost of disability can quickly rise it is important to use the resources that are available to you. There are many grants and scholarships that are available to persons with disabilities.
Grants and scholarships can cover many expenses. While some grants and scholarships are available to anyone in need, others are specific to the disability.
Plan for the Costs
One of the most important factors in financial planning for a person with a disability is planning. While you cannot prepare for every eventuality there are basic things you should take into consideration.
Accessibility is a big cost if you or your child has limitations that affect your ability to perform activities of daily living. Adaptive equipment can include items such as wheelchairs, shower chairs, augmentative communication devices, lifts, recreational devices, and more.
Part of planning for adaptive equipment also includes planning for the cost of repairs or replacements.
Healthcare costs are going to include doctor’s appointments, medications, insurance if you do not qualify for Medicare, and more. There are grants and other government benefits that can help offset some of these costs.
If you are the parent of a child with a disability who needs to return to work it will be important to find daycare options. For parents with children with disabilities, this need can extend into their child’s adulthood. It is important to find options that can meet your child’s needs so you can feel confident leaving them there.
If you utilize a wheelchair and need an accessible van or need a vehicle with adaptations to be able to drive this incurs extra costs. If you do not live in a community with a good public transportation system this is a cost that is necessary to take into consideration.
Make a Budget
Budgeting is important for anyone, however, for persons with disabilities, it is imperative. There are various questions you should consider when you are working to create a budget:
- Are you on a fixed income?
- If you have accommodations are you able to work?
- What are your monthly expenses?
- What kind of medical expenses do you need to consider?
Savings for Individuals with Disabilities
Savings can be scary if as a person with a disability if you are relying on government help that is need-based. Fortunately, there are provisions in place for this.
The 529A account or ABLE account allows individuals with disabilities to save money. The great thing about this is it does not threaten their eligibility for government help that is need-based.
Up to 15,000 dollars can be contributed a year without federal benefits being put at risk (this can vary from state to state. While this is not deducible on federal taxes it is at the state level in some states
This account can be used to pay for expenses such as:
- Health and Wellness
- Basic Living Expenses
- Financial Management
- Education and Training
- Legal Fees
- Assistive Technology
Quick Savings Tips for Persons with Disabilities
Here are some tips to help you save.
- Set aside money on a monthly basis, choose an amount that you can comfortably dedicate to savings per month
- Utilize tax breaks to your benefit
- Use discounts and coupons whenever possible
- Shop at stores that offer products for lower prices
- Do your research and find the lowest costs possible
- Be knowledgeable about how employment could affect your government benefits
- If you receive unexpected profits put them aside
- Remember small changes can make a big difference, pack your lunch instead of buying, drink water instead of pop, etc
Assistive Technology references devices that help individuals with disabilities to perform daily tasks. These tasks would otherwise be difficult or impossible to perform. While typically when we hear the word technology we think of tablets and computers this is not necessarily the case here.
Assistive technology can include anything from no-tech devices (Reachers, Post-It Notes, pencil grips, etc) to high-tech devices (Screen Readers, Tablets, etc). The cost of assistive technology can range from free to quite expensive.
Assistive Technology Lending Libraries
One of the best resources for assistive technology are Assistive Technology Lending Libraries. While some of these facilities will require a lending fee the majority of them are free.
You can search for Assistive Technology Lending Libraries by county or state. If your county has a Board of Developmental Disabilities that is a great place to start. Here is an example of Assistive Technology Lending Libraries in Ohio.
In addition, the local Goodwill Easter Seals is a great place to check for Lending Libraries.
State Assistive Technology Act Programs
Almost every state in the United States has one of these programs. This is a federally funded program that can help with:
- Device demonstrations
- Device loans
- Financial assistance
- Device exchange and recycling programs
- and more
Visit the National Assistive Technology Act Technical Assistance and Training (AT3) Center website to find out if your state has one of these programs.
Check out these organizations that offer financial assistance and grants for pets and service animals.
- Assistance Dog United Campaign offers financial support for service animals
- Best Friends provides a list of resources that offer financial help for caring for pets of individuals with disabilities
Assistive Tech Devices and Apps
Different companies that offer high tech assistive technology at a discount or for free include:
- Camera Mouse is a free program that allows users to control a Windows computer mouse with their head
- Discount Ramps offers wheelchair carriers and scooter lifts for the lowest possible prices
- GiveTech offers free input devices that allow quadriplegics to use personal computers
- Natural Reader is a free program that converts text to speech
- Be My Eyes connects low vision and blind individuals with volunteers over a video call to help solve problems over a video call
- Google Voice is a free app that transcribes voice to text
- NV Access provides a free program called NVDA that provides screen reading capabilities
- TapTapSee is a free app that can take a picture or video of anything and identify it out loud for you
The cost of books, classes, and more can quickly rise when pursuing higher education. Disability should not stop individuals from being able to pursue their dreams and goals.
Scholarships for Individuals with Disabilities
Scholarships for individuals with disabilities can often be disability-specific. As you explore these options be sure to note whether you meet the requirements.
The Organization for Autism Research provides scholarships for students on the autism spectrum. Students must be full-time students and working towards certification or accreditation.
The National Center for Learning Disabilities offers several scholarships for students with learning and attention disorders. Lighthouse Guild provides scholarships for students with visual impairments.
There are scholarships available for specific disabilities and general disabilities. The Microsoft Disability Scholarship is for individuals with general disabilities.
Educational Resources for Individuals with Disabilities
There are many resources available for students with disabilities including:
- Bookshare is free to qualifying students and offers ebooks for individuals with reading barriers
- Scribendi this service offers proofreading and editing
- Hooked on Phonics– a program designed to help children boost reading skills
- Five-Star– get the supplies you need to be successful
- More coupons for educational resources
Various facilities may offer discounts for individuals with disabilities or their companion. Some popular venues are listed here:
- Metropolitan Museum of Arts offers free admission for caregivers
- Mystic Seaport Museum if you are in the Connecticut area you can receive 50% off for one caregiver and person with a disability
- Seattle Aquarium offers 2 dollars off admission for individuals with disabilities
- Regal Cinemas offers both accessible seating and free admittance for a caregiver or attendant accompanying guests with disabilities (Companion Pass)
- National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled offers audio and braille reading materials for free
- Brooklyn Museum offers admissions for 10 dollars for individuals with disabilities and free admission for their care partners
- Coupons for entertainment
There are various grants available to individuals with disabilities. Some of these include:
- Ben’s Fund is in Washington State for families with children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Autism Support Network provides a list of a variety of grants for Autism related expenses
- First Hand Foundation provides grants for items that are not covered by insurance
- Parker’s Purpose Foundation Assistance provides grants to families with children under eighteen who are in financial hardship because of unforeseen medical expenses, preference is given to Ohio State residents
- Autism Cares Today offers grants to families and individuals who are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder
Medical expenses can quickly add up for individuals with disabilities. Here are a few resources that can help with discounts and grants for medical care:
- Getting Back Up provides funding for adaptable products and exercise-based recovery programs
- Dream2Walk gives financial scholarships to recovery facilities for individuals with spinal cord injuries
- Affordable Healthcare offers various government plans for insurance for individuals with disabilities
- PAN Foundation helps with out of pocket medical expenses for qualifying individuals
- Friends of Man offers financing for medical equipment and supplies as well as other basic needs
- Lion’s Club offers financial assistance to low-income individuals with disabilities for purchasing eyeglasses and hearing aids
- MTS Medical Supplies offers discounted medical equipment and supplies
- Friends of Disabled Adults and Children offers free or low-cost durable medical equipment
- Travis Roy Foundation offers Quality of Life Grants to individuals with spinal cord injuries
- Equal Opportunity Support Services
Housing and Employment
Housing and independence are big topics for individuals with disabilities. Call your local Board of Developmental Disabilities about waivers for independent living.
The US Department of Agriculture offers grants and financing for repairs and renovations. Financial assistance is also available to help pay rent. Ticket to Work provides free job training for individuals with disabilities.
Internet and Phone
Various resources offer accessible devices and internet access for individuals with disabilities including:
- AT&T offers a discount of up to 25 percent a month to individuals with a hearing impairment or speech disability
- Lifeline offers low-income individuals with disabilities discounts on wireless or landline telephones
- Sprint and Apple both offer various accessibility features that are free or low cost on devices
- The Emergency Broadband Internet Program is a program that offers financial assistance for internet services of up to 50 dollars per month. This program has a limited number of funds.
Sports and Leisure
There are also disability discounts that cover entrance fees and adaptive equipment for sports and leisure.
- Kelly Brush Foundation offers grants for adaptive sports equipment
- Challenged Athletes Foundation offers grants for coaches, maintenance for adaptive equipment, travel and competition expenses, equipment, and athletic prosthetics
- National Park Pass Discount the Access Pass is available to individuals with disabilities for just a 10 dollar application fee
Tax Help and Credits
The Internal Revenue Service offers Free Tax Preparation for individuals with disabilities. This service utilizes volunteers. Available services are dependent on volunteers that are available in your area.
Tax credits are also available for families with individuals with disabilities. Unreimbursed medical expenses can be deducted when you are filing your income taxes. The amount of these expenses that can be deducted is what exceeds 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. These expenses include:
- Mileage for healthcare appointments
- Medically required food
- Doctor bills
- Therapy supplies.
There is also a tax break known as the Child and Dependent care credit. This is a tax break for paying for an individual to care for your child while you are working or looking for work. If your child has a disability there is no age limit for this tax break and can cover child-care, day camp, and after-school programs.
Many car rental services will offer adaptive equipment to drivers at no extra charge. Make sure to call ahead before renting a vehicle and ask about any accessibility devices you may need. Amtrak offers discounts for persons with disabilities and one adult traveling with them as a companion.
When looking for daily transportation there are a couple of different resources to explore as well.
Do you live in a community with public transportation? Call and ask about discounted passes for persons with disabilities. Many bus systems offer discounted passes.
Do you need help getting to and from medical appointments? Call your insurance. Some insurance companies offer transportation services to and from medical appointments. These do need to be scheduled ahead of time.
Are you ready to hit the road and explore? Check out some of these services that offer traveling discounts:
- ClubGo offers travel discounts of up to 60% off motels, resorts, and hotels to individuals with disabilities
- Spirit Airlines passengers with disabilities do not need to pay extra fees for special devices
There are two federally funded programs to help with utility costs for individuals with disabilities:
- Low Income Energy Assistance Program helps with home energy costs this program is federally funded
- US Department of Energy offers a Weatherization Assistance Program
Start Saving Now
Now that you have all the resources in hand for disabled discounts it is time to start saving. As you plan your purchases take some time to browse our buyer’s guides to enhance your savings experience.