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Vehicle Modifications for Persons with Disabilities

Persons with disabilities and those experiencing the effects of aging may require vehicle modifications to accommodate their driving needs. Available equipment selections include steering adaptations, brake/accelerator systems, hand controls, lifts, locks, back up alarms, rain sensing windshield wipers and driver positioning devices.

User Considerations

The decision to install special equipment and the task of identifying individual adaptive equipment needs requires a team effort. Teams typically include a trained driving evaluator, a qualified vehicle modification dealer and the potential driver. A comprehensive driver evaluation provides the adaptive equipment needed.

For wheelchair and scooter users, lifts can be installed that raise the driver and wheelchair or scooter together, or just the mobility device so that it can be stored. Adjustable power seats that swivel allow riders comfortable entry and exit and facilitate wheelchair or scooter transfers. Strategically located handles and grab bars provide additional positioning assistance. Automatic door openers, remote car starters, power locks and power window controls decrease the amount of movement and strength needed for some driving tasks.

For individuals preferring to remain in their wheelchair while driving or riding, tie-down devices are required to keep the chair securely in place while the vehicle is in motion. Some tie-downs are manually operated, using belts to hook the wheelchair frame to a floor-mounted track. There are also power lockdown devices that allow the individual in a wheelchair to drive directly over an automatic latching mechanism which grabs the lower chair frame and secures it in place.

For those with limited upper body or head movement, wide-angle and spotting mirrors can be used to increase range of vision. They can be placed both inside and outside the vehicle. Customized seat cushioning typically used for positioning and stability can raise a rider up to provide an improved field of view.

Vehicle Considerations

  • What type of vehicle is needed to accommodate all the equipment that needs to be installed, the wheelchair, the driver and passengers?
  • Are additional adaptations necessary for safe operation?
  • Will existing vehicle safety equipment have to be modified in order to install the adaptive equipment?
  • Does the dealer carry professional liability insurance?
  • Is there adequate parking space at home and/or work for the vehicle; is there room for loading and unloading?

Vehicle Modification Dealer Considerations

  • What credentials does the dealer have?
  • How much experience has the dealer had in vehicle modification?
  • Are references available from previous customers having similar modifications?
  • What types of payment options are available? Is a prescription required? From whom?
  • What is the time frame for the work?
  • Will the individual need to be available for fittings?
  • Does the dealer provide training? For how long? At what cost?
  • Is there a warranty? Does the dealer perform ongoing service and maintenance? Do they stock replacement parts?

Funding Considerations

Costs associated with modifying a vehicle vary. Whether you modify a vehicle you already own or purchase a new modified vehicle, it pays to investigate funding options. These options may include programs that help pay for all or part of the cost of vehicle modifications and/or alternative financial loan programs.

ATAC and DRNJ do NOT provide funding for vehicle modification. ATAC operates “Back In Action,” a listing of new and used assistive technology items. Back In Action frequently has listings of used modified vehicles, and may have other items available, such as hand controls. In order to access items available on the Back In Action listing, you must contact the seller directly. For additional information on Back in Action, visit http://backinaction.drnj.org/home.php, or contact ATAC at (800) 922-7233 for assistance.

Loan Programs

BANK OF AMERICA

The Bank of America Access Loans program provides affordable and flexible terms for individuals with disabilities or access needs who need vehicle modifications. Immediate family members borrowing on behalf of an individual with a disability are also eligible. For example, a parent may apply for an access loan on behalf of a child with a disability. Terms are available up to 72 months

Contact: 1-800-900-9000 (voice) or 1-800-833-2632 (TTY)
https://www.bankofamerica.com/auto-loans/access-loans/disability-access-loans.go

PNC BANK

PNC Bank, in conjunction with New Jersey Citizen Action, offers the Self-Reliant Loan and Grant Program. This program can be used for any kind of accessibility issue – for permanent projects like ramps, service animal maintenance, scooters, computers with adaptive software or other types of special equipment. The program offers:

  • Highly discounted interest rates and competitive repayment terms
  • Loan amounts from $1,000 to $5,000, with no application fee
  • A limited number of $1,000 grants are available on a first come, first served basis.
  • Limit one grant per household.

Contact:
1-877-762-7000 (voice) or http://www.pnc.com/. Visit your local branch for more details.

Federal Resources

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (VA)

The VA provides the Automobile Adaptive Equipment (AAE) program for individuals who have service-connected disabilities and need assistance to enter, exit, and/or operate a motor vehicle or other conveyance. The VA Driver’s Rehabilitation Program provides training on how to safely operate modified vehicles. The VA also provides necessary equipment such as platform wheelchair lifts, UVLs (under vehicle lifts), power door openers, lowered floors/raised roofs, raised doors, hand controls, and digital driving systems. Additionally, VA’s program provides reimbursements for standard equipment including, but not limited to, power steering, power brakes, power windows, power seats, and other special equipment necessary for the safe operation of an approved vehicle. For more information, call the VA directly at (800) 827-1000 or visit http://www.prosthetics.va.gov/psas/AAE.asp.

INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (IRS)

If an individual with a disability needs access to a vehicle for medical or employment purposes, some or all of the cost may be deductible from federal income tax as a medical expense (IRS Publication 502) or impairment related work expense (IRS Publication 529). Call (800) 829-1040 or visit http://www.irs.gov for more information.

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (SSA)

A Plan to Achieve Self Support (PASS) allows an individual with a continuing disability eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income to set aside income for a short or long term employment goal, which can include vehicle modification.. A PASS must be approved by SSA. For information about applying for a PASS, contact SSA at (800) 772-1213 or visit http://www.ssa.gov/ssi/spotlights/spot-plans-self-support.htm. Additionally, the New Jersey Work Incentive Network Support program may be able to assist you in applying for a PASS. Contact NJWINS at (866) 946-7465 or visit http://www.njwins.org/.

State Agencies

Several state agencies have programs that may help certain individuals purchase modified vehicles. These programs each have different eligibility criteria, different levels of available funding, and different application processes. In order to apply for assistance, contact the agency directly. If you apply with a state agency for services, and are denied, DRNJ may be able to advocate on your behalf. Please feel free to contact our intake department at (800) 292-9742 if you have questions or concerns.

  • The New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS) provides financial assistance through the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund. This program provides assistance to families whose children have significant health programs.  Call (800) 335-3863 or visit the DHS website at: http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/cicrf/home/ for assistance.
  • The Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) may provide access to vehicle modification through a Medicaid waiver program, such as the Supports Program or the Community Care Waiver. These programs are only available to DDD clients enrolled in Medicaid. For information about DDD services, call (800) 832-9173 or visit http://nj.gov/humanservices/ddd/ for assistance.
  • DDD and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) provide assistance with vehicle modification for individuals receiving services through the Family Support Services program. Families must exhaust any other services to which they are entitled before they can receive assistance through Family Support.  Individuals may receive no more than $11,000 for home and vehicle modifications over a three-year period. DCF provides services for families with children under age 21, while individuals over age 21 receive services through DDD. For information about DCF services, call 877-652-7624 or visit http://www.state.nj.us/dcf/families/csc/.
  • The Division of Disability Services (DDS) may provide access to vehicle modification through the Community Resources for People with Disabilities Waiver. This Medicaid waiver program provides assistance for people who would otherwise require nursing home assistance. DDS may also provide access to vehicle modifications through the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Fund, which provides assistance to New Jersey residents who have experienced a traumatic brain injury. The TBI fund will pay for vehicle modification when justified under a service plan as being appropriate and cost-effective, and is limited to one vehicle per twelve-month period. For information about all DDS services, call (888) 285-3036 or visit http://nj.gov/humanservices/dds/home/> for assistance.
  • The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) may provide access to vehicle modifications as part of an effort to help an individual with a disability achieve employment.

    Foundations and Grants

    Various organizations may provide grants that may assist individuals in obtaining access to modified vehicles. Some organizations may provide direct financial help, while others may provide assistance in fundraising. This is a partial listing of available foundations. In addition to the organizations listed here, your local faith-based organizations or community service organizations may also be willing to assist you in obtaining a modified vehicle. For more information about the specific organizations, or to apply for assistance, contact the organization directly. DRNJ cannot assist you with an application process of a private organization.

    Vehicle Modification Rebates

    Many automobile manufacturers provide rebate programs to help cover part of the cost of needed modifications. Different manufacturers have different programs that provide different levels of assistance. Contact the manufacturer directly for more information about specific programs.

    Vehicle Modification Vendors

    This is a partial list of organizations, businesses, and service providers in New Jersey that can provide assistance with vehicle modifications and driver training. For assistance in purchasing a used vehicle, “Disabled Dealer Magazine” contains classified advertisements for individuals seeking to sell adapted vehicles, and is available online at http://www.disableddealer.com/. For additional information, consult the CARTWheel, a list of service providers for assistive technology, available at http://www.njcart.org/cartwheel/

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    Able Care Supply
    246 Main Avenue
    Passaic (Park), NJ 07055
    Phone: (973) 777-5566
    Phone: (800) 310-1196
    Website: http://able-care.net/
    Email: sales@able-care.net

     

    Arcola Mobility
    51 Kero Road
    Carlstad, NJ 07072
    Phone: (201) 507-8500
    Phone: (800) 272-6521
    Website: http://www.arcolamobility.com
    Email: info@ArcolaSales.com

     

    Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation
    61 West Jimmie Leeds Road
    Pomona, NJ 08240
    Phone: (609) 652-7000
    Website: http://www.bacharach.org

    Bornmann’s Rehab Vehicles

    131 South Delsea Drive
    Glassboro, NJ 08028
    Phone: (609) 881-7979

    Brunswick Automotive & Mobility Professionals

    1490 Route 1 North
    North Brunswick, NJ 08902
    Phone: (732) 545-6300
    Email: mail@brunswickautopros.com
    Website: http://brunswickautopros.com/

    Causeway Ford
    375 Route 72
    Manahawkin, NJ 08050
    Phone: (888) 420-1288
    Phone: (888) 420-1288
    Website: http://causewayflm.com/

     

    Cycle Van
    6 William Street
    South River, NJ 08882
    Phone: (732) 238-3110
    Website: http://www.cyclevan.com/
    Email: cyclevan@comcast.net

     

    Drive-Master
    37 Daniel Road West
    Fairfield, NJ 07004
    Phone: (973) 808-9709
    Website: http://www.drive-master.com

     

    ECHELON Driving School
    203 West Evesham Road
    Voorhees, NJ 08043-1050
    Phone: (800) 446-7234
    Phone: (856) 428-2200
    Website: www.echelondrivingschool.com
    Email: EchelonDS@aol.com

     

    Ed-Tom Auto Body
    539 Mantoloking Road
    Bricktown, NJ 08723
    Phone: (201) 477-2266

    Fun Truck’N
    255 US Highway 46 West
    Saddle Brook, NJ 07663
    Phone: (973) 546-1900
    Website: http://www.ftmobility.com/

    HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital
    14 Hospital Drive
    Toms River, NJ 08755
    Phone: (732) 244-3100
    Website: http://www.rehabnj.com/

    JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute
    65 James Street, PO Box 3059
    Edison, NJ 08818-3059
    Phone: (732) 321-7056
    Website: http://www.njrehab.org/

    Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation
    1199 Pleasant Valley Way
    West Orange, NJ 07052
    Phone: (800) 248-3221
    Website: www.kessler-rehab.com

    Larson Ford Mobilities
    1150 Ocean Avenue
    Lakewood, NJ 08701
    Phone: (732) 363-8100
    Web site: http://ford.larsonford.com/

    Lilliston Ford
    833 North Delsea Drive
    Vineland, NJ 08360
    Phone: (888) 397-9172
    Website: http://www.lillistonford.com/

    MobilityWorks of Cinnaminson
    2303 Wallace Boulevard
    Cinnaminson, NJ 08077
    Phone: (856) 829-9449
    Website: http://www.mobilityworks.com/

    MobilityWorks of Farmingdale
    5105 Highway 33
    Farmingdale, NJ 07727
    Phone: 732 919 1444
    Website: http://www.mobilityworks.com/

    MobilityWorks of Woodbury NJ
    1549 Gateway Blvd
    Woodbury, NJ 08096
    Phone: (856) 848-3470
    Website: http://www.mobilityworks.com/

    Odyssey Automotive Specialty
    317 Richard Mine Road
    Wharton, NJ 07885
    Phone: (800) 535-9441
    Website: http://www.odysseyauto.com

     

    Pinelands Collision Center Inc.
    2051 Route 206
    Southampton, NJ 08088-9501
    Phone: (609) 859-2888

    Ridgedale Sunoco
    626 Ridgedale Avenue
    East Hanover, NJ 07936
    Phone: (973) 887-5942
    Website: http://www.gosunoco.com/

    St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center
    Occupational Therapy Department
    2381 Lawrenceville Road
    Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
    Phone: (609) 896-9500
    Website: http://www.slrc.org

    Van’s East
    PO Box 1125
    Morristown, NJ 07962
    Phone: (973) 292-1995

Other Resources and Links

The Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of DRNJ 210 South Broad Street, Third Floor, Trenton, NJ 08608

For voice assistance and information, please call 1-800-922-7233. TTY users may dial (609) 633–7106, or use the NJ Relay, 711 to reach the 800# above.

The 58 statewide Assistive Technology (AT) Programs form a national network of statewide assistive technology programs. Information contained in this brochure represents the accumulation of knowledge of this national network. This publication was made possible by Grant Number 90AG0050-01-00 from the Administration for Community Living. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Administration for Community Living.

 

Member, National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)

New Jersey's designated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities


Disability Rights New Jersey
210 S Broad Street, 3rd Floor
Trenton, New Jersey 08608
1.800.922.7233 (in NJ only) • 1.609.292.9742 (Voice)
1.609.777.0187 (Fax) • 1.609.633.7106 (TTY)
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DRNJ is an Equal Opportunity Employer and provides services to all persons with disabilities regardless of race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, marital status, familial status, sex, sexual or affectional orientation, ancestry or disability. Any concerns regarding the agency’s compliance with these non-discrimination efforts may be brought to the attention of the Executive Director.

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