How to Get Free Home Modifications

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Robin Mead

Home modifications might include wheelchair ramps, grab bars in bathrooms and hallways, widening doorways, stair lifts, walk-in tubs, removing safety hazards, or making other needed modifications.

Below is a list of programs that provide free or low-cost home modifications to people who have disabilities or chronic health problems. Some programs will also provide small home repairs needed for safety.

Am I Eligible?

Eligibility criteria will vary by program. When contacting places on this page, make sure to call all programs that say “senior” or “elderly” even if you are young. Many times these programs will also serve people with disabilities. You do not need to be on disability to qualify for most of these programs

Do I Need to Own The Home?

No. Most programs listed below are also available to renters. You will need to get your landlords permission to make the modification. Some programs require that you live in the house for one year before they will make any modifications. If your landlord does not wish to grant permission, you can make a reasonable accommodation request through the Fair Housing Act.

What Kind of Modifications Can I Get?

Home modifications some of our readers have found helpful: Examples of Home Modifications. The National MS Society also has a great booklet on Adapting Your Environment, including lots of tips and ideas if you are considering home modifications.

Finding Free Home Modifications

Be prepared to make a LOT of phone calls and be prepared to be told that nothing is possible or no programs exist in your area. Don’t lose hope. The more places you contact, the better your chances of finding something. Please comment below to let us know if any links on this page stop working.

Energy Efficient Improvements

Many areas have programs that provide free modifications to make homes more energy efficient. Programs vary by area, and some provide heat pumps, furnaces, windows, lights, and insulation.

Home Modification Programs 

Directories of programs that offer free home modifications for people with disabilities:

Local Agencies 

Call and ask if they offer or know about local programs that offer home modifications or repairs:

For Veterans

There are many types of funding available for veterans. Check out:

Through Medicaid

In some states, Medicaid Waiver programs will pay for home modifications (widening doorways, evening floors, wheelchair ramps, walk-in bathtubs, etc). Some will also pay for pest control.

Stair Lifts and Walk-In Tubs

Creative Strategies

  • If your home modifications will help you return to work or school, or continue going to work or school, you may be able to inquire about funding through a vocational rehabilitation agency.
  • If you currently live in public housing, your landlord may be required to make home modifications if you make a disability accommodation request.
  • A Social Worker or caseworker may be able to help you find services in your area: How to Get a Social Worker
  • You can also consider moving to an apartment that doesn’t need modifications. HUD offers disability-accessible apartments that are very affordable. Many of our readers report finding nice and very affordable housing this way: How to Find Yourself a Nice, Affordable HUD Apartment
  • Most health insurance will not pay for home modifications. But they will often pay for medical equipment in the home (wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, etc). How to Get Medical Equipment

Homeowners

See all programs listed above. In addition:

If You Are Applying for Disability

  • If you apply for a home modification, the program may do an assessment of your disability needs in your home. They may also ask for documentation or a form from your doctor. Any type of paperwork or assessment may be helpful for your disability case.
  • It is a great idea to request and keep copies of everything that documents your disability needs and submit this to Social Security.
  • Hint: It is better not to send anything to your local Social Security office – send it directly to the person or office who is currently handling your case.

Rose Gets Home Modification Tax Credits

My county offers a “Livable Homes Tax Credit” that reduces your property taxes by the amount you spend on home modifications for disabilities with a $2500/year limit.

It can include ramps, nonslip flooring, walk in showers, grab bars, different style door handles, etc. There is a whole list of eligible improvements.

There is a limit of $2,500 per year (you can do improvements in consecutive years to get the tax credit again if doing everything you want costs more than $2500, or do 2 or 3 smaller projects that add up to $2500 in the same year)

Please check to see if property tax credits are available where you live. When they originally introduced the credit, it was for 50% of the cost but they have since increased it to 100% of the cost (It is not an instant reimbursement since you have to apply by April 1 (with the improvement completed) for the credit to show up on your July property tax bill.


Learn More

How to Be Poor in America

How to Survive Financially While Applying for Disability

How to Greatly, Greatly (Greatly!) Improve Your Disability Application

What Do You Think? 

Updated July 2018. Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. 

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6 thoughts on “How to Get Free Home Modifications”

  1. Hello,
    thank you for your details on how to apply for modifications and what steps, would you happen to know of resources or ways to help people who may not realize how to use the modifications. For example, I am a caregiver for my brother and he is really strong minded and feels he doesn’t need any type of help because he does not want to use or doesn’t really understand how to use the equipment properly and even want to walk without their wheelchair or walker because they want to remain “independent”.
    I want to figure out how I can convince him to use it without feeling like I am “telling him what to do ” or taking away his own independence. Before his onset of seizures he was very independent and on his way to college, and working yet for the past 4 years he has been homebound and in and out of the hospital because of the severity of his condition. So I feel like its I have to help retrain his mindset on doing daily activities yet with a safety first perspective, yet i have not found a successful way to convince him. Can you please offer any guidance or advice on how to am a caregiver for my brother and he needs help walking and standing because he has over 20-30 seizures per day where he can fall and lose consciousness and it has caused multiple falls which some have even knocked out his teeth.
    Yet he is a former football player and very strong minded individual who doesn’t truly understand that because of his condition that there is a certain way he must take his time or even use the device to be safe. I want to teach him to be patient with his long recover process yet I dont know the best way to teach him or show him without an angry response I dont need that I can walk on my own. Because of having so many seizures, he may even forget that he fell or even how it happened. I almost sometimes feel like I have to protect him from even moving. The biggest things is I am only 4’11 and he is 6’1. I would love to teach him how to have a Great, disabled life.

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    1. Hello destiny,

      I am very I’m glad you’re there to care for your brother. I’m sorry I don’t really know an answer to this.

      Would he be willing to meet with the physical therapist or occupational therapist? I think this might be where to go to get assistance with how to use equipment.

      If there is any kind of physical therapy rehabilitation center in your area this could also be helpful. You could also try following the link above on this page to see if you come across any programs that specialize in a fifth of technology or rehabilitation. I would assume that these would be people who would be able to assist in teaching someone how to use equipment? I hope that it goes well for you.

      Like

    2. Hi Destiny,
      Talk with his Doctors and get him to physical therapy and may be OT, but definitely PT. They can and should direct you to area’s for help. My boyfriend had a massive stroke at 53 and has left sided weakness. Through the PT dept and his doctors they helped him understand what was happening to him and that things take time. They also put him on depression meds that are wonderful. It has been 3 years but he is just now finally doing somethings on his own and I can finally go back to work FT instead of PT. I have handicapped equipment like grab bars thru my house including bathrms. I have ramps he can now get thru the house on his own. Still is not walking by himself but he can walk, the scare he has is overwhelming for him. With your brothers seizures you might think about getting him a seizure dog thru K9 companions. The dog alerts him when a seizure is coming! Good luck and GOD BLESS you and your Brother.

      Sincerely,

      Laurie

      Like

  2. Your site is a wonderful resource toward helping understand how both SSI & SSDI work & the differences!

    I am assisting a dual eligible family member, identified as requiring 24/7 care & desires to return home. She mistakenly moved from rehab hospital to an “unapproved assisted living facility” as a temporary last resort with my subsidizing the portion of her her rent she is unable to pay while she continues to pay her home utilities, etc.

    Obviously, this move was a mistake in thinking such a move would “avoid Medicaid having to pay her rent” until she relents to moving to a nursing home. Thanks to the clarity in your site, decision time has arrived.

    Like

    1. Hi cookie,

      I am glad you are there to help her.

      If her goal is to avoid a nursing home, perhaps she can get into a medicaid waiver program so she can get care in her home. But it would not be 24/7. I have met a few people who did get 24/7 but it took a ton of appeals and fights, it would be very hard to get that 😦

      In some states, waiver programs also have some funds available to help people move out of facilities into their own homes, so that may be worth inquiring about.

      I was not sure I understood what you meant about subsidized rent, but I wanted to mention that if you pay part of her rent or utilities, this would lower her SSI check. It’s not clear where she’s living right now though, as long as she pays all her own rent in one place that would probably work.

      When medicaid pays for a facility, I believe the disability check will stop in 30 days, but I believe there is a way to extend that to 90 days.

      Just a few ideas. Not sure if any of that is helpful. I hope it goes great for you 💕

      medicaid home aides: https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/how-to-get-a-caregiver-through-a-waiver-program/

      SSI rent: 
      https://howtogeton.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/how-to-figure-out-how-much-rent-to-pay-on-ssi/

      Like

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