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Does Medicare or Medicaid Cover Service Animals?

People that receive benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) may be paid through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI qualification additionally comes with Medicare coverage, and many who receive SSI also meet Medicaid eligibility rules. Monthly disability payments and medical coverage help ensure you and your family have what you need.

Medicaid, Medicare, and Service Animals

State and federal medical coverage through Medicare and/or Medicaid meets many of your ongoing healthcare needs, but neither of these programs cover the cost of a service animal.

In fact, no health insurance, even from private companies, covers service animal expenses. There are however other ways of getting a service dog or other assistance animal, even when you’re on a restricted income.

Will health insurance cover service animals?

Social Security Disability Service Animal Assistance Programs

There are many nonprofit organizations that raise, train, and offer service animals to the disabled, and often do so free of charge or at reduced costs to those who qualify. It’s important to understand however that many of these programs have long waiting lists, so obtaining a service dog or other medical assistance animal will take some time.

Here are just a few organizations to consider when searching nonprofit options for service animals:

  • Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind
  • Canine Companions for Independence
  • International Association of Assistance Dog Partners

Other smaller organizations also provide service animals at no cost or reduced cost for qualified applicants. These nonprofits often have long waiting lists as well, but can be a source of affordable assistance animals for disabled persons on a limited income.

Service Animal Accreditation Programs and Additional Resources

Just keep in mind that service animals must go through structured training. This is how they provide the type of assistance a disabled person truly needs. Assistance Dogs International (ADI) is a nonprofit accreditation program that sets the standards for training service canines. On the ADI website, you’ll additionally find a searchable database for locating accredited training programs in your area.

Social Security Disability Payments and Affording a Service Animal

Although Medicare and Medicaid don’t cover the costs of obtaining, feeding, or providing veterinary care for service animals, disability benefits can help cover these expenses. Monthly benefits provide consistent income and may allow you to afford ongoing service animal expenses.

Many disability applicants also receive a significant sum at the commencement of benefits. This sum is the payment of “back benefits.” Back benefits may accumulate due to delays while your disability claim is reviewed. They can also build up because your disability onset was long prior to the date when your benefits payments actually start.

Either way, some applicants see a large lump sum payment when they’re first approved for disability. This lump sum can help cover the initial cost of a service animal.

A disability attorney or advocate can help you apply for benefits and can assist you in understanding the amount of monthly benefit payments and any back pay to which you may be entitled. He or she can also potentially help with locating a nonprofit and in applying for additional assistance that can make getting and caring for a service animal more affordable.

Comments

Some people I know are receiving benefits without my knowledge or approval. give it to the tent cities

Hi Valerie,
Unfortunately, if they are eligible for benefits, you may not have any approval to give as the SSA determines eligibility.

Most people don't know that a service dog CAN BE owner-trained, as long as the owner is able and willing to do so; or, has friends and family who are able and willing to help. Understand that a service dog is held to VERY high standards of behavior, in addition to being trained to help with tasks which one's individual disability make difficult. It also involves training one's self to maintain a level of consistency which is WAY beyond that which is involved with caring for a pet dog. It's definitely not an undertaking for someone who "just wants to be able to take their dog with them everywhere..." Even with the amount of information available on-line, a lot more sure would be useful! I'd love to see people in every community form co-op type groups, to team up on owner-training, sharing ideas, information, training tips, etc. Really good socialization is essential for every service dog; and, most of us who are disabled really don't have the money to afford trainers, etc. Also, training is an on-going thing. The best trained SD teams can get sloppy over time; especially, when we "have 'better' days and 'total crap' days..."

Hi Kathy,
Thank you for sharing! It's true that you may be able to train a service animal yourself.

Iam on ssi ans part medcaid can someone please help me to get a service dog i have try ed to get but no luck i have sez i fall all the time iam scared to leave my home i have no money. Please help me

Hi Frances,

I am very sorry to hear that, but unfortunately medicaid does not cover service animals.

Best Wishes,
Eric

Hi I live in Michigan & you may want to look into the option of service dogs. Under Medicaid they are considered an "Expense" I know this because I have a Therapy Dog & have documentation along with receipts I provide. Although, they do not help with my expenses of having her, she is considered an expense & they do tally up all your receipts & is covered.

Will they actually pay for the service dog or, just allow it to be considered a medical expense for Medicaid paperwork purposes?

Hi Lloyd,
That may depend on your state's certification process for service dogs, and if your state allows you to do that. You may want to contact the office that handles Medicaid in your state as guidelines can vary by state.

I have heart problems,and anxiety and depression among other heath issues. I fall a lot and i get weak and have ptsd please help me get a service dog i have no money do to keeping my house. I have problems walking up the stairs

HI Jean,
You may want to reach out to these organizations:
Canine Companions for Independence
International Association of Assistance Dog Partners

you need to ask your attorney for service dog help if he or she is already assigned to your case. Also your medical provider may help. Local organizations also may help. Contact the three organizations listed above.

Every state has an Independant living center or ILC that should be able to help you, as well as the Epilepsy foundation. Have you thought bout using a wheelchair when you go out? Best of luck to you!

Hi I have a prescription for an emotional support animal so I have been through some of what you are going through. My landlord even tried to deny me and eventually terminated my lease over it. I am in a much better place now. The person to get your animal through starts with you and your doctor figuring out what service the animal will provide and even what animal would be best for you. I myself have a cat because it is a better fit for my needs.

Hi Jamie,

You may want to speak with a representative from the VA regarding that.

I have multiple sclerosis do you know anyone/where I could get a service/companion dog that's been trained to deal with ms?

Hi Alan,
You'll need to check in with local organizations--No health insurance currently covers service animals.

I have M.S, PTSD, going blind and a # of other illnesses and I am looking for a companion/helper dog myself
Did you contact your local M.S. Foundation or M.S. Society to ask for help? ?
So far, neither did I, but they have LIMITED FUNDS to help people with M.S. They have helped me with security deposit for my apartment and when my daughter passed away.
To my understanding, the most they will give you is $500. after your request for financial help has been documented and goes through a team of people who make the decision on if they will/ can help with what you want the $$ for.
I am going to call tomorrow and see if they may even have trained dogs or some associations that give trained dogs. You never know until you ask. Also look for a possible grant from government grant sites and private organizations who will either pay for everything or at least help out with the cost.
Be careful because there are so many rip off sites that want $10,000 or more for a dog and they aren't even well trained or in poor health. You will need to train with the dog so figure on possible travel expenses.
Good luck to you.
I just started looking myself. I do know if a person is going blind, the blind assoc will train you with the dog that seems to fit with the person well and give the person the training and the dog.
So hopefully just keep digging on the net. You may find what you need for free or get a grant or sliding scale price .
Don't give up. Something will happen for you if you really need it. I believe in prayers also.

Hi Jean,

Thanks for sharing. Wishing you nothing but the best!

-Eric

PAWS WITH A CAUSE....they train to your specific need and although there may be a wait...there is no charge ror the animal. They have a websight!

Hi Sherry,

Thanks for sharing! There are a lot of great organizations like that out there.

Best Wishes,
Eric

I also live with MS. Contact "PAWS WITH A CAUSE" THEY HAVE A WEBSITE. I had to wait for over 4 yrs because it was difficult to train a dog to do what I needed. They train the dogs specifically to YOUR needs.
Tara is my hero! She and I do things I never thought I would be able to do again. She is my mobility dog, best friend and is an excellent communcator. Life is easier and certainly more fun with my "PAws" trained dog!

Hi Angie,

That is something that you need to ask the insurance company. However, no health insurance currently covers service animals.

Best Wishes,
Eric

Eric, I think she is talking about homeowners or renters insurance as many of those policies prohibit certain breeds from homes they insure. And many landlords because of this object to those breeds.

How long is your waiting list for a service dog I have epilepsy the small seizures and grand male I'm on a fix income I only make 745.00 month can u help me find a dog with someone who will work with me on my income. Email is

I have epilepsy and cannot work anymore. I was just wondering if Medicare and Medicaid would be able to cover it. I am still fighting to get SSI.

Hi there,
You may want to contact the office in your state that administers Medicaid, they would be able to let you know what's covered by medicaid in your state.

I'm trying to get a service animal/ companion but I don't believe that the friends that I receive are enough for me to pay for it and pay for the carrot needs what can I do to fix this?

Hi Brad,
You may want to talk to your insurance company, however no health insurance currently covers service animals.

-Eric

Hi im on ssi and i have a cat, as an emotional support animal. I cant afford the food and other items, but my new manager wants to charge me 300 deposit and 25 a month in pet rent he says if i get a letter saying my cat is a companion animal he doesnt charge. Does anyone know how i contact about receiving a letter stating my cat is a companion animal?

Hi Jennifer,

There are several resources online where you can apply for service animals.

-Eric

Hi i am hearing impaird and i have three little chichayays and they ate pretty well trained if someone knocks on my door they scratch me to let me know theres someone thete and i feel very protected with them i am just wondering how i can get them regestered to be service animals for me i am on ssi disabality and cant afford to get them regestered and i also have anxiety is thete any place that can help me i just cant afford it

Hi Doris,

Sorry to hear that. But there Social Security does not cover for service animals.

Best Wishes,
Eric

Hi Carol,

Apologies, our organization does not provide assistance for those looking to have service animals.

Best of Luck,
Eric

My husband is a disabled veteran he has ssd and his service animal is sick...we can not afford to get him to the vet due to our baby coming any week..is there a program to help

Hi Kristin,

I am so sorry to hear about your service animal. I am not an expert on the field but I am sure there are some service dog organizations that may be able to help you out with that.

Best Wishes,
Eric

My dog is a Emothanal support Dog
He came up with Addison Dieses
He,s going to need MEDS for
The Rest of his Life. I,m on SSI.
He,s going to need blood work and
His Shot, one,s a Mouth.if he does
Not get the treament that he need
He will Die,Please Help Me.

Hi Freddie,

I am so sorry to hear that, but there is unfortunately nothing that we can do that can help. However there are some organizations out there that help with service animals that could be able to help you.

Best Wishes,
Eric

Hey im 15 years old and i have a puppy named shotgun and im looking to certify him as an esa but my drs wont prescibe him they just laugh at me!! Im currently struggling with ptsd from being raped for 12 years and i really need shotgun as my esa for school and work but of course everything cost money and i just dont have money does anyone know someone who can help??

Hi Aubrie,
I'm sorry to hear about that! You may want to look for nonprofits in your state that can help you with that.

I read your comment and want you to know we are praying for you.Call on God, he will help guide you through the right steps to take, and to the people who can help you. All you need to do is ask him for help through the process, and pay attention to the doors that he will start to open for you. You will know them as they open.

I'm trying to get my 11yr old autistic son a emotional support dog. Will his back pay buy the dog and does the dog have to be trained for autism or not. And will a letter from his pediatrician be accepted or do I need one from a therapist?

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