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Financial Aid to Make Homes ’Accessible’
Excerpts from WSJ article by THEO FRANCIS April 6, 2008
The article states that many existing homes are not easy to modify for age related disabilities. The article says there are ways to keep costs down, including potential federal tax deductions and assistance from nonprofit and government groups.
Cost of Accessibility
Many existing homes were built with narrow doorways and stepped front stoops, no first-floor bathroom. Cost of retrofits could be expensive.
External elevators might cost $26,000 or more, while a simple chairlift on a straight stairway could cost $2,500 to $5,000, the Center for Universal Design estimates. Outdoor ramps might cost a few hundred dollars to $2,400 per foot of rise; a wider exterior door could cost $1,600, the group says.
Simpler changes like replacing door knobs with lever-style faucet or door handles and adding grab bars in shower/bath and near the toilet.
Aid from Uncle Sam
Federal tax law can help defray the costs by letting you deduct them from your taxable income as medical expenses. However, only medical expenses exceeding 7.5% of adjusted gross income generally are deductible. A physician should also approve the changes as medically necessary in writing, says Rosanne Grande, a financial adviser in Bohemia, N.Y., who has had several clients make their homes more accessible. The tax break can shrink if improvements increase the value of the home. See guidelines and eligible expenses in Internal Revenue Service Publication 502.
If you receive Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income, you may be eligible for additional benefits for "impairment-related work expenses," or certain costs that make it possible to work. These can include some home-modification expenses as well as wheelchairs, vehicle modifications and even some medications.
Sources of Help
Some long-term-care insurance policies pay for some home modifications, as do some state Medicaid programs. Private health insurance and Medicare typically don’t. For those unable to cover the costs themselves, various organizations, many local, might help, or even do the renovations directly. Some 400 Centers for Independent living around the country can direct residents to local assistance programs, and may offer lists of contractors specializing in making homes more accessible.
To find local center at http://www.ilru.org/ the Web site of Independent Living Research Utilization.
Another website is http://www.ataporg.org/helpingpeople.asp)
AARP says it hopes to compile a list of tax and other assistance for home modifications by year end.
How do they define "accessible"? Would Internet access qualify?
IMHO - Providing the funding for one of these systems would seem to be a cost-effective home modification.
things - without
The Internet also provides accessibility to online health information and you can chat with support groups and like-minded people you've never met. Sometimes that alone can ward off a lot of other social and health problems. Being able to easily communicate with friends and family helps prevent loneliness and depression.
Does anyone know if this might be covered? Probably not, because it makes too much sense!!!