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Ask Ms. Medicare

Does Medicare Pay for Seat Lifts?

Q. I have to lift my 101-year-old mother out of her chair every time she needs to get up. Will Medicare help pay for a seat lift for her?

A. Medicare covers the rental or purchase of seat lifts in some circumstances. They must be prescribed by a physician for patients who:

  • Have severe arthritis of the hip or knee.
  • Have muscular dystrophy or another neuromuscular disease.
  • Are apt to experience an improvement in their condition or slow its progress by using a seat lift.
  • Have a condition severe enough to confine them to a chair or bed if they don’t have a seat lift.

If your mother’s physician (or nurse practitioner or physician assistant) prescribes a seat lift, he must show that the equipment is essential to her treatment and fill out a Certificate of Medical Necessity, as Medicare requires.

Medicare covers only the type of seat lift that operates smoothly and can be controlled by the patient so that she can stand up and sit down without assistance. (It doesn’t cover the spring-release type that essentially jolts the patient from a sitting to standing position.)

Medicare will help pay for a seat lift—or any other equipment—only if it’s obtained from a supplier enrolled in the Medicare program. To find one, go to Medicare’s home page and click on “Find Suppliers of Medical Equipment in Your Area.”

Patricia Barry is a senior editor at the AARP Bulletin.

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