Does Medicare or Medicaid Cover Service Animals?

Submitted by Deanna on Mon, 06/13/2016 - 12:31

Table of Contents

If you get financial help from the Social Security Administration (SSA), it might come in the form of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). 

If you're getting SSDI, you may be on Medicare. This is because people who qualify for SSDI, also get Medicare. And many SSI recipients qualify for Medicaid. These monthly payments and medical coverage help make sure you and your family have what you need.  

Does Medicare or Medicaid Cover Service Animals? 

Medicare and Medicaid are government health plans that cover a lot of our healthcare costs. Unfortunately, neither covers the cost of a service dog or animal. 

Will health insurance cover service animals?

Will Insurance Cover Service Dogs and Other Assistance Animals? 

No, insurance does not cover service dogs. In fact, no health insurance, not even private insurance, will help with service animal expenses. But, not to worry. There are other ways to get a service dog or another type of assistance animal, even if you don't have much money (i.e., you're on a restricted income). 

Social Security Disability Service Animal Assistance Programs  

There are nonprofit groups that raise, train, and provide service animals to people with disabilities. Oftentimes, such organizations will do so for free or at some sort of reduced cost for those who qualify. But here's the thing - many of these programs have long waiting lists, so it might take some time to get a service dog or another type of medical assistance animal. 

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

Smaller organizations also offer service animals at no or low cost for people who qualify. 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 

It's important to remember that service animals need to go through special training to provide the help that people with disabilities really need. Assistance Dogs International (ADI) is a nonprofit program that sets the standards for training service dogs. You can also find accredited training programs in your area on their website by using their searchable database

Social Security disability benefit payments can help you afford a service animal.

How Social Security Disability Payments Can Help You Afford a Service Animal

Even though Medicare and Medicaid won't cover the costs of getting, feeding, or providing veterinary care for service animals, Social Security disability benefits can help with these expenses. Social Security disability benefits are monthly benefits paid to eligible individuals through the SSA. These benefits provide a steady income that can help you pay for ongoing service dog costs. 

In addition to disability benefits' monthly payments, many people also get a lump sum of money when they're first approved for disability. This lump sum of money is called "back pay." Back pay is calculated by the SSA. To calculate your back pay, the SSA will: 

  1. count up the number of months between your initial disability benefits application date and ultimate approval date; and 
  2. multiply that sum of months by the monthly benefit amount you were awarded by the SSA. 

For example, if you have been awarded a monthly disability payment of $880, and it took the SSA seven months to ultimately approve your disability application, you would be entitled to $6,160 in back pay. 

Since back pay is calculated using the amount of time it takes disability claimants to get their applications approved, back pay can oftentimes add up to pretty large sums of money. This is typically due to delays in: 

  1. the SSA's processing of disability claims, and/or 
  2. your disability started a while before you got your monthly payments. 

Nevertheless, given the fact that back pay is a paycheck of sorts, it can definitely help cover the initial cost(s) of getting a service animal. 


If you're not sure how to apply for benefits or understand how much you'll get each month or in back pay, a disability attorney or advocate can help. They can also assist in finding nonprofit organizations and applying for extra help to make getting and caring for a service animal more affordable. 

To get connected and speak with a Social Security disability lawyer or advocate who can help you today, complete the Free Case Evaluation on this page. 

To figure how out much money you're entitled to in Social Security disability benefits, use our Social Security Benefits Calculator

Blog comments

valerie ruth a… (not verified)

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

Sat, 07/02/2016 - 17:28 Permalink

In reply to by valerie ruth a… (not verified)

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

Tue, 07/05/2016 - 10:20 Permalink
Kathy R. (not verified)

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..."

Mon, 01/02/2017 - 08:25 Permalink
Frances dixon (not verified)

In reply to by Kathy R. (not verified)

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

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 18:58 Permalink
Kristin (not verified)

In reply to by 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.

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 21:08 Permalink

In reply to by Lloyd (not verified)

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.

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 12:27 Permalink
Jean (not verified)

In reply to by Frances dixon (not verified)

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

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 21:06 Permalink

In reply to by Jean (not verified)

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

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 13:58 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Frances dixon (not verified)

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.

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 07:53 Permalink
Brenda (not verified)

In reply to by Frances dixon (not verified)

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!

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 09:04 Permalink
Crystal (not verified)

In reply to by Frances dixon (not verified)

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.

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 08:12 Permalink
Alan Carpenter (not verified)

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

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 20:34 Permalink
Jean (not verified)

In reply to by Alan Carpenter (not verified)

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.

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 19:36 Permalink
Sherry (not verified)

In reply to by Alan Carpenter (not verified)

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!

Sat, 08/05/2017 - 13:13 Permalink
Christine (not verified)

In reply to by Alan Carpenter (not verified)

Hi Alan,
There is a place in Charlottesville. I also have MS and have a mobility dog that has been a life saver for me! I didn’t have to pay anything for him and everything I do for him including food, heart worm and flea preventative, etc. is tax deductible. I hope this helps. Just google service service dog Charlottesville.

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 14:32 Permalink
Amy (not verified)

In reply to by 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.

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 19:22 Permalink
BECKEY LYNN HE… (not verified)

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

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 15:31 Permalink
Matthew vecchioni (not verified)

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.

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 14:30 Permalink

In reply to by Matthew vecchioni (not verified)

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.

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 14:58 Permalink
Brad (not verified)

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?

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 18:42 Permalink
Jennifer (not verified)

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?

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 17:03 Permalink
Doris Nieto (not verified)

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

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 02:07 Permalink
Kirstin (not verified)

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 there a program to help

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 14:12 Permalink

In reply to by Kirstin (not verified)

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,

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 15:58 Permalink
Hi FreddieVega (not verified)

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.

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 14:14 Permalink

In reply to by Hi FreddieVega (not verified)

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,

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 15:55 Permalink
Aubrie (not verified)

In reply to by 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??

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 14:03 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Aubrie (not verified)

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.

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 04:18 Permalink

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