Transportation for Spoonies

Artwork: Elizabeth D’Angelo

If you are having trouble getting to the doctor, or getting around town, or getting across the country, here are a few programs that might help. You do NOT need to be on disability to qualify for most programs on this page.

Vocational Rehabilitation

🌷If you are planning to work or go back to school, your local Vocational Rehabilitation agency may have funds available to help you with transportation to work or school.

🌷If you are on SSI and working, your transportation costs may be considered an “impairment related work expense.” This may keep your SSI check from being reduced. Learn more: How Does Working Affect My Disability Check?

Para-transit Programs

🌷Paratransit programs offer low-cost, door-to-door transportation for people with disabilities or chronic illnesses How to Apply for Paratransit

🌷 Many paratransit services that will take you door-to-door anywhere you want to go (not just doctor’s appointment… they will take you anywhere!). You do not need to be in a wheelchair to use this service.

🌷 Success story! Roselyn applied for paratransit and got denied. Three months later she applied again and got approved. Her health didn’t change. What did change? Roselyn Gets Approved for Paratransit by Using the Magic Words

Free Rides

Contact local agencies to see if they offer rides for people with disabilities. Where to contact:

  • Senior center (even if you are young)
  • Aging and Disability Resource Centers
  • Area Agencies on Aging (again, any age)
  • Council for Independent Living
  • Alzheimer Groups
  • Community Action Agencies

Medical Transportation

🌷 For local transport: How to Get Free Transportation to Your Doctor 

🌷 For long distance, planes, trains, hotels, etc: How to Get Free Medical Travel

🌷 Keep track of all your medical transportation expenses (including mileage, taxi fares, planes and trains, hotels, and food). These expenses can make your taxes go down, your food stamps go up, and (in some types of housing) your rent go down. Learn more about how this works: How to Document Medical Expenses

Car Owners

🌷 Check out How to Find Help with Car Expenses 

🌷 Also: How to Get a Disability Parking Placard.

Buses & Subways

🌷 Some areas offer free or discounted bus and subway fares to people with disabilities. Inquire with your local transit authority.

Stay Home

🌷 Options for grocery delivery: How to Shop Without Standing Up.

🌷 Also: How to Get Groceries Delivered with SNAP Food Stamps.

State Home Aide Programs

State home aide programs are designed to keep people out of nursing homes. If you are in a state home aide program, you may have two good transportation options:

🌷One: Select an aide who has a car and can drive you places.

🌷 Two: Some state home aide programs have additional benefits. One benefit is “medical transportation” and “non-medical transportation.” If your program offers non-medical transportation, you can get door-to-door transportation anywhere you want. Ask your home aide caseworker if your program offers this benefit and how many trips per month you can take.

If Your Aide is Not Allowed to Drive 

If your aide is not allowed to drive you places, most state home aide programs will let you choose:

🌷Self Directed Care – You can hire a person you select. So, you can select a friend who has a car, or you can advertise for an aide with a car. The state will pay the salary.

🌷Agency Care – They send an aide from an agency. The agencies sometimes have rules that the aide cannot drive you anywhere.

If this happens, you can look into switching: Agency Care vs Self-Directed Care

Other Options for Aides

🌷 If you do not qualify for a state home aide program, there may be other programs in your area that can assist: How to Get a Caregiver. Unfortunately many of these programs have been cut and no longer exist in many areas.


🌷 Amtrak has a mediocre wheelchair service that may provide you with a wheelchair and assistant who can push the chair and help you get to the train. Be prepared to speak up for yourself a lot and possibly get stranded.

🌷 Amtrak gives 15% discount to people with disabilities, plus a traveling companion.


🌷 Airports also have wheelchair services and they are GREAT. Use them. You will be very glad you did. Learn more: Sleepy Girl Airport Wheelchair Tips

🌷 Airlines will allow you to bring an animal on board with you if it is an emotional support animal or psychiatric service animal and you have a doctor’s letter. Learn more: Rosemary Gets an Emotional Support Animal

🌷 Some airlines will allow you to get a free additional seat if you have a medical need for an extra seat.

🌷 Some airlines offer a discounted ticket if to a companion if you need a caretaker to travel with you because of your disability. Please check the individual airline’s policy.

🌷 Sunflower has some brilliant advice for how to make arrangements by contacting the airline disability services, and how to take care of yourself if you are traveling with ME. Please take a look here: Sunflower Goes on a Trip

Learn More

More bright ideas for How to Be Poor in America

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

Updated May 2018. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons: 


7 thoughts on “Transportation for Spoonies”



    1. You would need to contact your local program and ask their rules for this.

      If they won’t let you do it by mail, you could try requesting a disability accommodation in writing, ideally with a note from a doctor stating you can’t go there due to disabilities.


  2. I have a spine injury that makes sitting and standing difficult. I’ve asked paratransit if I can lie down but they said no (that they don’t allow stretchers nor can I lie down across the seats). I’m trying to see if I qualify for an aide but it’s slow going. Do you know if paratransit will ever allow riders to lie down?

    It’s ‘funny’…in the earlier stages of my condition I had enough energy/well-being to do mental work but I didn’t know what to do. Now that I’ve found your website I know what to do but don’t have the energy to do it.

    Shine on Sleepy Girl


    1. Hi Pi,

      You’ve asked an excellent question here. I’m sorry I really don’t know the answer.

      It would certainly be worth putting your request in writing. You could start by asking them their policy for making a reasonable accommodation request, asking for a written copy of their policy and how you can make a request in writing and get a reply in writing. It is common for agencies to say no when asked verbally, but the response is often different in writing. 🙂

      I honestly am not sure what type of accommodations paratransit need to make.

      You might also try these folks. I have a friend who was helped by them:

      If you are on medicaid you could also contact them to see if you can get medical transport on a stretcher , that would only be for doctor’s and medical trips though.

      if you find out any more please let us know. Hope it goes great for you.


      1. I like this info, Im in Utah so I still cant get a lot of help. I am in housing but it’s horrible, how do I change if I’m already in one.?


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