5 ways to finance an accessible vehicle

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Ask a Lender
October 11, 2017 | Updated October 16, 2017


Key Points

How to finance mobility equipment and accessible vehicles

  1. Conventional loan
  2. Through mobility equipment dealerships
  3. Government financing and grants
  4. Manufacturer rebate programs
  5. Grants from associations and groups

Improvements in technology have opened up more options than ever for individuals with disabilities to increase their mobility and independence with an accessible vehicle — from purpose-built wheelchair mobility vans to van conversions and standard automobiles modified to be handicap accessible.

Accessible vehicles are more expensive than the average car, however. Accessible vehicles typically need to be customized to an individual’s specific mobility needs, which adds up to a significant cost. If you need a loan to purchase an accessible vehicle for yourself or someone in your care, there are several financing options that could help.

1. Conventional loan

As with any vehicle purchase, you can obtain a conventional auto loan to finance your accessible vehicle purchase. Loan eligibility and interest rates will depend on credit score, down payment amount and debt-to-income ratio. Loan conditions vary widely, so be sure to compare lenders to see what options are available to you. Some lenders who specialize in financing accessible vehicles may offer up to 100 percent financing. Remember that this may not always be a wise option, even if you qualify. Larger loan amounts typically translate into more interest paid over time.

2. Mobility equipment dealerships

There are several mobility equipment dealerships across the U.S. that sell and customize accessible vehicles. They can be a great resource for detailed information on different vehicle models and give you the opportunity to test drive before you make a purchase. Moreover, many mobility equipment dealerships have in-house repair shops and warranties that protect your new vehicle.

Mobility equipment dealerships typically offer financing arrangements through preferred lenders. While this limits your loan choices, working with a lender experienced in accessible vehicles could help you get approved or access special financing opportunities. The best strategy is to get preapproved before shopping at a dealership, so you can better assess the dealer financing offer or negotiate a lower interest rate.

3. Government financing

There are several government programs that offer eligible individuals funding to purchase an accessible vehicle. These include the Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS), Disability Insurance and Supplementary Security Income programs through the Social Security Administration; Medicare and Medicaid; and programs through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

There are also Vocational Rehabilitation Programs in all 50 states that offer counseling and grants to help disabled individuals become self-sufficient and return to work. Eligible individuals may be able to access funding for adaptive equipment or vehicle modification services. Most states also offer Assistive Technology Loan Programs to help people with disabilities and those caring for them to finance adaptive equipment, including vehicle modifications. These state-backed loans are serviced by private lenders and carry lower interest rates and fees.

Rules and requirements vary by program, and many only offer funding for vehicle modifications, as opposed to purpose-built accessible vehicles. Be sure to research and compare your options.

4. Manufacturer rebate programs

Accessible vehicles purchased from a mobility equipment dealership or directly from the manufacturer are often eligible for mobility assistance reimbursements. These are typically rebates of about $1,000 redeemed directly from the manufacturer. Rebates are often only applicable to modifications made to a new vehicle purchase.

5. Grants from associations and groups

Many charities, associations and community organizations offer grants to purchase adaptive equipment or accessible vehicles. Many groups focus on supporting individuals with a specific condition, such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Muscular Dystrophy Family Foundation and Byron Riesch Paralysis Foundation. Others are state-based organizations or focus on a specific age group, such as the Special Kids Fund’s MagicMobility program providing mobility equipment to children and their families. Grants range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars, and are often reserved for specific types of vehicles, such as used or modified ones.

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