Buying and installing a walk-in bathtub might seem expensive at first glance, but there are plenty of ways to get help paying for this kind of tub. Financing is widely available from sellers, and financial assistance is available from a number of sources. Read on to see which options you may qualify for.
If you’re a veteran, VA benefits are a great way to get financial assistance for buying a walk-in tub. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers assistance in the form of grants, home modification financing and pensions intended to help veterans age in place and get the care they need.
The first place to start is with the Veteran Directed Care (VDC) program (previously known as Veteran-Directed Home and Community Based Services). This program has the express mission of providing participant-directed aid to veterans who wish to age at home and remain active members of their community. Through the VDC, veterans manage their own flexible spending accounts that can be used in any way they see fit, including offsetting the costs of a walk-in tub. More information about state-specific eligibility can be found through your local VA Medical Center.
There are also home modification grants available through the VA, including the Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) grant. The HISA grant features a paid benefit of $2,000 for veterans with a condition that's not related to their service and up to $6,800 for those with a service-connected condition.
You may also be able to get funding through a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant or a Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grant. However, these are reserved for those with service-related disabilities, such as blindness or lost limbs, and the government limits the number of grants it awards each year.
One last option for veterans is working through your VA pension and the Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits. These additional pension benefits are intended for housebound veterans or those needing extra help with daily activities.
Home modification grants
If you’re not a veteran, there are other options for home modification grants. One option is the USDA Rural Repair and Rehabilitation grant program, also called the Section 504 Home Repair program. These grants of up to $7,500 can be used to update primary residences for health and safety concerns, which could include installing a walk-in tub. Though there will be some state-specific requirements, these grants are generally available to those who:
- Are 62 or older
- Live in eligible areas
- Own and occupy the home in question
- Have an income below 50% of their area’s median income
- Are unable to obtain an affordable loan elsewhere
If you are a member of a federally recognized American Indian tribe or an Alaskan native, you may be eligible for a grant through the Housing Improvement Program funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This grant provides $7,500 for housing repairs that “threaten the health and/or safety of the occupants.” To qualify, you must also:
- Live in an approved tribal service area
- Have an income under 150% of the government’s poverty guidelines
- Have substandard housing
- Have no other resource for housing assistance
- Have not acquired your present housing through a federally sponsored program
Many other grants can be found at a local level with funding from national agencies like the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Older Adult Home Modification Program (OAHMP).
Many states offer assistance to older people through local agencies and programs to make up for gaps in Medicaid funding. However, the assistance you’re eligible for will vary based on your state’s programs. Some programs consider walk-in tubs to be durable medical equipment (also called assistive technology), while others don’t. We’ve highlighted two local programs below as examples of what non-Medicaid programs can offer.
Check your state’s rules for non-Medicaid programs.
One organization that indirectly offers aid is Illinois’ Home Accessibility Program (HAP). It provides grants to other organizations that make health and safety improvements to keep people in their homes longer. While the amount of assistance varies, each qualifying household was eligible to receive up to $25,000 in 2020.
Another option is Nevada’s Assistive Technology for Independent Living (AT/IL) Program. This program is available to any qualifying Nevada resident with a permanent disability that reduces their ability to perform daily functions. Funding is capped at $3,000, but the program covers assistive technology like walk-in tubs, wheelchairs, grab bars and stair lifts.
Nonprofits are another option for walk-in tub financial assistance. One such national organization is called Rebuilding Together. Rebuilding Together helps older people and veterans with a program called Safe at Home that offers funding for home modifications. However, eligibility and the amount of assistance available is determined by the local affiliate and, in some cases, may only help with installation costs and not the cost of the tub itself.
Another national organization that may be able to offer assistance is Habitat for Humanity. Many of Habitat’s state and county affiliates have programs to help those who are aging in place. These programs work with construction specialists to assess the needs of older adults in the area and offer assistance in the form of free labor, grants or loans with low to no interest.
Walk-in tub manufacturers actually offer a number of ways to make their tubs more affordable. Financing is common, and many walk-in tub companies offer discounts and rebates throughout the year.
These incentives can be stacked with many of the options listed above; if you’re a veteran, you may qualify for financial assistance from the VA and a veterans discount from your walk-in tub’s manufacturer.
As you shop for a walk-in tub, see which brands offer worthwhile incentives and factor those into your decision. This is also why it’s helpful to get quotes from various brands. Pricing isn’t very transparent in the industry, so speaking with a brand directly to get a price and find out which discounts or rebates you qualify for is crucial to making a smart decision.
Other ways to pay for walk-in tubs
If you're not able to find financial assistance to help purchase a walk-in tub, a personal loan or a reverse mortgage may be an option.
A personal loan can be used for a major purchase such as a walk-in tub. Getting a personal loan is a fairly simple process, and multiple factors go into preapproval rates and how much you will receive.
Check with your financial advisor or bank to discuss loan options. You will want to have a couple of things handy, including your monthly income and basic personal information. You should also know what your credit score is before applying. A personal loan could help fund your walk-in tub purchase and cover installation and customization costs.
A reverse mortgage is an additional option to consider when looking for ways to finance a walk-in tub. These loans are only available to seniors and reduce the amount of equity you have in your home. The funds are available as a line of credit, a lump sum or monthly installments.
There are several types of reverse mortgages that can be used to pay for a walk-in tub purchase, but the most common option is a home equity conversion mortgage (HECM). Reverse mortgages can be refinanced, and they do not affect your Social Security or Medicare benefits. Using these funds could help pay for your walk-in tub along with any customizations required.
- Article sources
- ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. To learn more about the content on our site, visit our FAQ page.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Community Living, “Veteran Directed Care Program.” Accessed April 5, 2021.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA).” Accessed April 5, 2021.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “VA Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound allowance.” Accessed April 5, 2021.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rural Development, “Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants.” Accessed April 5, 2021.
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