Various types of financial assistance for visually impaired are available. We have enlisted some of them in the hopes that we will be able to light up the life of someone who may be struggling.
Education assistance for individuals who are visually impaired
The American Foundation for the Blind provides scholarships to deserving students who are blind or visually impaired to support their post-secondary education.
Learning Ally, through its Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Awards (SAA), supports college seniors and graduate students who are blind or visually impaired.
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped provides free Braille and recorded materials to eligible candidates. They are delivered and returned by postage-free mail.
The American Council of the Blind awards scholarships to vocational, undergraduate and graduate college students who are legally blind and are involved in their school and local community.
The Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired offers the Ferrell Scholarship to students who are legally blind and are looking forward to engaging in careers that are involved in education and rehabilitation of blind or visually challenged people.
The Blinded Veterans Association offers scholarships to dependent children and spouses of veterans of the United States Armed Forces who are blind.
The Christian Record Services offers scholarships to undergraduate students who are legally blind and the grants are given irrespective of the chosen area of study.
The Lavelle Fund for the Blind offers the Brother James P. Kearney Scholarship Program for the Blind. The scholarship looks to offer quality undergraduate and graduate education to US residents who are legally blind, financially needy, and are attending one of the 11 selected private universities in New York State and Northeastern New Jersey. The financial grant ranges up to $15,000/student/academic year for up to four years.
The Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies at Western Michigan University offers a number of scholarships and graduate assistantships. It is required that the students are involved in vision rehabilitation services for two years after graduation for every year that support is provided.
Surgery and medical equipment financial assistance:
The Knights Templar Eye Foundation offers help to patients who cannot afford eye surgery and who are not eligible for federally-funded programs.
The Assistance Dog Special Allowance Program offers a monthly payment to eligible persons who use a guide, signal, or service dog due to their disability. The allowance considers the cost of food, grooming, and healthcare for the dog.
Vision USA is a program run by the American Optometric Association that offers financial assistance to uninsured and low-income individuals. Eligible candidates are referred to a volunteer optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam. To some patients, eye glasses may be offered free of cost or at reduced cost.
Prevent Blindness America provides vision screening and follow-ups for adults and children at a reduced cost.
The Partnership for Prescription Assistance has a database of prescription assistance programs for individuals without prescription coverage. You may contact the organization to find out the program that suits your needs the best.
New Eyes for the Needy provides optical vouchers that one can use to buy eyeglasses free of cost. However, cost of examinations is not covered by the program.
Vision is Possible is a program run by both the Sacramento Valley Optometry Society and the Northern California Lions Sight Association that provides assistance with intensive eye care to patients with limited resources.
Medicare for the visually impaired
Medicare is a federal insurance program that is funded through employer and employee payroll taxes. In order to qualify for the entitlements of Medicare, an individual must be:
– A recipient of Social Security Benefits
– A retiree from the federal government
– A recipient of Railroad Retirement Benefits
For people who are not disabled, eligibility for Medicare begins at the age of 65 years. However, people under the age of 65 years who are disabled may receive Medicare if they have received Social Security or Railroad Retirement Disability benefits for at least 24 months. Disabled adult children may receive benefits if their parents are a Medicare recipient or deceased Medicare recipient.
Medicare benefits are divided into Part A and Part B. Medicare Part A covers the cost of hospital care, nursing home, and home healthcare services. Medicare Part B covers for: Physicians’ services, outpatient services, rural health clinic care, outpatient rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapy, speech pathology, prosthetic devices, durable medical equipment, diagnostic tests, and certain preventive services.
Other government financial assistance for visually impaired
The Social Security Administration provides financial help to those who are legally blind or to those who have visual problems that impairs their ability to work.
The U.S. Postal Service facilitates people who are legally blind to send and receive books, recorded material, certain types of equipment, and other mail free-of-charge. In the right top corner of the envelope, you may have to write: “FREE MATTER FOR THE BLIND OR HANDICAPPED.”
The Department of Motor Vehicles provides a disabled parking placard to people with visual impairment. The placard is transferable, so it can be transferred from one vehicle to another in which the visually impaired is a passenger. It will help the bearer use the specially marked disabled parking spaces and the parking will be free. Permanent parking placards are given to patients with permanent disability.
Visually impaired persons are eligible for special tax deduction on their income taxes. You may need a physician statement about your vision impairment attached to your tax returns. The amount of deductions may vary based on your filing status. In addition, the amount may vary each passing year. Furthermore, your vision impairment may entitle you to additional deductions.
Transportation for the visually impaired
Most national rail and bus companies offer financial assistance for visually impaired through discounted fares for people with visual impairment and their companions. You need to carry a proof of vision loss and picture ID card. Also, many local Transit Agencies offer reduced fares for disabled persons.
The US government offers the Beautiful–National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass–Access Pass to persons with a permanent disability. With the help of this lifetime pass, one gains access to use national parks, campgrounds, and other federally operated recreational facilities for free or at reduced cost.
1. Financial assistance for the visually impaired: http://www.fullcirclecare.org/resources/disabilityresources/blind/blindpay.html
2. Helpful organizations: http://www.brightfocus.org/macular/resources/helpfulorganizations.html
3. Other scholarships and grants for students who are blind or visually impaired: http://www.afb.org/info/other-scholarships-and-grants-for-students-blind-or-visually-impaired/5
4. Handbook of resources and services for persons who are blind or visually impaired: http://www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/entres/pdf/BlindHandbook/CompleteHandbook.pdf
5. Financial aid for vision services: http://www.lighthouse.org/downloads/resources/financial.pdf