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Funding Assistive Technology and Accommodations

There are a variety of options available for funding assistive technology, equipment, and accommodations needed to perform job tasks. One-Stop staff assistance can range from limited guidance, to extensive involvement in arranging for funding and will depend on:

  • the level of services being provided to the individual;
  • the complexity of the individuals situation; and
  • the time available to obtain funding.

Funding by the Employer

The first option that should be considered is the employer. Employers are required to pay for assistive technology, equipment, and other accommodations, if the request meets the criteria for a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A lengthy discussion about whether an accommodation is reasonable may not be necessary if employers see the cost of an accommodation as simply part of the investment needed to ensure a productive employee. Employers costs can be offset by:

ADA Small Business Tax Credit:

Businesses with 30 or fewer employees or $1,000,000 or less per year in total revenue can receive a tax credit for the cost of accommodations provided to an employee (or customer) with a disability. This credit covers 50% of eligible expenditures up to $10,000 (maximum credit per year of $5000). For additional information, contact the Internal Revenue Service.

  • Web site: www.irs.ustreas.gov
  • Voice: 800-829-1040; TDD: (800) 829-4059
  • Publications (request publications 535 and 334 which cover ADA deductions & credits) Voice: (800) 829-3676; TDD: (800) 829-4059

WOTC & WtW Tax Credits:

Although not directly connected to accommodations, any employer can use these tax credits to help offset costs of assistive technology, equipment, or accommodations for a person with a disability.

  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit - WOTC is available to employers for hiring individuals from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Employers can receive a tax credit of up to $2,400 per individual hired. Many people with disabilities meet the criteria for WOTC, including all recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and all clients of state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies. Information on the 2004 reauthorization of the WOTC.
  • Welfare-to-Work Tax Credit - If a person with a disability is a recipient of Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) at the time of hire, the employer can receive a federal tax credit for up $8,500 per individual hired.

Additional information on these tax credits can be obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor: www.dol.gov/odep/business/incentiv.htm. WOTC state and regional contacts can be found at http://wdr.doleta.gov/contacts

WOTC and WtW tax credit request forms and state contact information can also be obtained by calling (877) 828-2050 (a toll-free number). This Fax-On-Demand service allows access to WOTC/WtW request forms via Fax by using a touch-tone telephone or a fax machine. Up to two documents may be requested per call. Once you call this service, simply follow the instructions and enter the document number (listed below) that corresponds to the form or information needed.

  • #1 - System Index of Information
  • #101 - The Regional Contact Address Directory
  • #102 - The State Contact Address Directory
  • #103 - IRS Form 8850
  • #104 - ETA Form 9061

Non-Employer Options

In some cases, an accommodation may not be considered reasonable but may still be necessary or desired. Also, as noted in the Overview document, there are circumstances where it does not make practical sense for employers to pay for a reasonable accommodation, such as:

  • The individual with a disability needs to own a piece of equipment or assistive technology so that he or she can take it with them when changing jobs
  • The individual needs to identify, acquire, and possibly be trained on a piece of assistive technology to increase the likelihood of being hired.

The individual may pay for the accommodation out of pocket; however, there are a variety of other non-employer options. Some are fairly straightforward and quick; others require significant investigation and lead time.

Vocational Rehabilitation

The state Vocational Rehabilitation agency (VR) can pay for assistive technology, equipment, or other accommodations for individuals who qualify for VR services. Since VR is a One-Stop partner, it makes sense for One-Stop staff to start by contacting VR to determine if VR can pay or identify other funding options.

Medical Insurance

  • Medicare - Medicare may pay for a piece of equipment or assistive technology for insured individuals, if the equipment is deemed medically necessary.
  • Medicaid - Similarly, Medicaid may pay for a piece of equipment or modification if it is deemed medically necessary for a Medicaid recipient. The rules governing Medicaid vary from state to state. Information is available from your local Medicaid and Medicare office (listed in the government pages of the phone book) or by contacting the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (www.cms.hhs.gov).
  • Private Insurance -Private health insurance may cover the cost of assistive technology or equipment. Individuals should review their insurance policies and contact their insurance company to see if such devices are covered.

Social Security Work Incentives

  • IRWE - Individuals who receive Social Security disability benefits (Supplemental Security Income - SSI and Social Security Disability Insurance - SSDI) can use an Impairment Related Work Expense (IRWE) to help offset the cost of assistive technology or work accommodation. It is fairly quick and straightforward to arrange IRWEs.
  • PASS - Individuals receiving SSI can use a Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS) to offset the entire cost of assistive technology, equipment, or accommodations. PASSs require an application process and typically take approximately 30 to 60 days to be approved. While PASSs are more complicated, PASS Cadres (experts on the PASS program) are available to help.

To find out more, visit the SSA web site at: www.ssa.gov/work and look in the work incentives section. Contact information for PASS Cadres is on the SSA web site. You can also call SSA at (800) 772-1213, to find out who your local PASS Cadre is. See section 9, Social Security, for more information on IRWE and PASS.

Veterans Affairs

If the individual with a disability is a veteran, or a dependent of a veteran, they may be eligible for funding from the Veterans Administration (VA). The VA is specifically authorized by law to pay for devices and assistive technology for people with disabilities. Contact your local Veterans Affairs Office, listed in the government pages of the phone directory, or the national office at (800) 827-1000 or www.va.gov.

Local Service, Charitable, Religious & Civic Organizations

Funding may be available from local organizations. Although it can take some work to identify possible organizations, funding can then sometimes be obtained fairly quickly. Listings are often available from local community guides and phone books. An individual with a disability may belong to such an organization or have a connection (via a relative or neighbor) that can be useful in utilizing this funding resource.

Private Foundations

A wide variety of national, regional, and local private foundations can be sources of funding. Application procedures and application response time vary significantly. Resources and assistance in identifying funding sources is available from:

The Foundation Center
79 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10003
Phone: (212) 620-4230
Fax: (212) 691-1828
e-mail: library@fdncenter.org
Web site: http://fdncenter.org

Each state has a resource library on funding, called a cooperating collection. The list of cooperating collections is available from the Foundation Center.

Funding Sources for Assistive Technology, Equipment, and Accommodations

Funding Source

Comments

For More Information/Contact

Employer

Required to fund only if meets criteria for "reasonable accommodation" under ADA

Employer costs can be offset by:

  • ADA Small Business Tax Credit--up to $5,000/yr.
    Contact IRS via government pages of phone book or www.irs.ustreas.gov
  • WOTC & WtW Tax Credit--Any employer can receive up to $2,400/employee from WOTC and $8,500/employee from WtW.
    Contact U.S. Dept. of Labor via government pages of phone book or at
    www.doleta.gov/programs/wotcdata.cfm;
    forms available by calling (877) 828-2050.

Vocational Rehabilitation

One-Stop partner; must qualify for VR services

VR contact via One-Stop should be able to help

Medicare

For people who have Medicare health insurance

Contact local Medicare office (government pages of phone book) or CMS at www.cms.hhs.gov

Medicaid

For people who have Medicare health insurance. State may have additional guidelines

Contact local Medicare office (government pages of phone book) or CMS at www.cms.hhs.gov

Private Insurance

Varies

Check policy and/or contact carrier

Social Security Work Incentives

IRWE--for people on SSI & SSDI
PASS--for people on SSI

Contact local Social Security Administration (SSA) office or call
(800) 772-1213
Website: www.ssa.gov/work

Veteran's Affairs

For people who are veterans or dependents of veterans

Contact the VA via the governement pages of the phone book or at (800) 827-1000; website: www.va.gov

Local Service, Charitable, Religious, & Civic Organizations

Check to see if individual with disability has connection with such an organization

Local community guides and phone books often have listings of such organizations

Private Foundations

Application procedures and response times vary significantly

The Foundation Center
79 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003
Tel: (212) 620-4230, Fax: (212) 691-1828
Email: library@fdncenter.org
Website: http://fdncenter.org
- Each state also has a Foundation Center "cooperating collection"

Written by:

Institute for Community Inclusion