Does Medicare or Medicaid Cover Service Animals?

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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

Teresa (not verified)

I'm trying to get my

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?

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 23:37 Permalink

In reply to by Teresa (not verified)

Hi Teresa,

Hi Teresa,

As a rule of thumb, you should always check in with the SSA first with any questions you have regarding pay for your child. And I can't say for sure about whether the dog has to be trained for that or not.


Thu, 07/27/2017 - 09:29 Permalink
KathyHartje (not verified)

Hi how do I get. A service

Hi how do I get. A service dog as I've a double disability

Mon, 08/28/2017 - 17:47 Permalink

In reply to by KathyHartje (not verified)

Hi Kathy,

Hi Kathy,
You may want to start by looking for service dog trainers in your area, they may be able to help you with this.

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 09:05 Permalink
Wilda (not verified)

I would like to know if my

I would like to know if my service dog and have Medicaid or Medicare. for the first time. I really believe she needs to see a vet now. I am hearing impaired can you please help me ?

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 15:58 Permalink

In reply to by Wilda (not verified)

Hi Wilda,

Hi Wilda,

I'm sorry but I really can't say for sure, you might want to call the Medicare hotline and ask:1-800-633-4227

Best of Luck,

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 09:43 Permalink
Donna Wally (not verified)

I don't need a service

I don't need a service animal provided to me, nor do I need assistance with feeding, training or any other care for my dog. I just don't understand why I should have to pay for the vest, or harness, or whatever other identifying apparatus may be necessary, in order for my dog to be allowed to accompany me in public without being hassled by people who don't understand. I am bipolar and have generalized anxiety disorder, and I am caregiver to my partner, who has a brain injury. Our dog is helpful to both of us when shopping, which is generally a somewhat stressful situation for both of us, because she makes other people happy, which in turn makes us happy, and much calmer as a result. She is very well-behaved, social, and potty-trained, and is greeted cheerfully in most establishments, without us even being subjected to questioning, but since I was confronted by a rude manager at the Walmart where we have been taking her for over three years, without ever having been bothered about it before, now I really want her registered, but I can't really afford the cost involved.

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 12:15 Permalink

In reply to by Donna Wally (not verified)

HI Donna,

HI Donna,
Many people who have animals in that capacity call them emotional support animals, which don't have a certification but are in many cases treated similar ways to service animals.

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 14:19 Permalink
Hailee (not verified)

Would Medicare cover/allow

Would Medicare cover/allow treatment with the aid of a therapy dog in an outpatient physical therapy setting?

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 17:33 Permalink
jennie (not verified)

I just want to throw this out

I just want to throw this out there. All goverment programs, TANF, Snap, Section 8 housing. The salvation army , all federal programs to help people in need such as myself who have service animals do reguire you to put this on all applications for asistance of anykind.service animals are seen as your medication. And claimed on your taxes as so.That is why S.S and disabilty gives a lot sum to budget your expenses as well. My service dog is also on my HIP pluss application. If its a federal application of any sorts for federal help you better have them on your applications. wheather they help pay for the well being or not of your service animal. i have also filed for disabilty and they do pay a lot sum for your service animal. My insurance does not cover him yet but i have confidence that one day he well.But for one federal program does not co exsist with out the other.They still have to be on that application. and they have to be claimed on your taxes. Just in case anyone on snap, section 8 or goverment housing and you did not know talk to your caseworker.

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 12:53 Permalink
Jennie (not verified)

I just wanted to through this

I just wanted to through this out there in case noone is aware. I have a service dog. im on section 8 houseing, im over 54. and have filed for S.S and disabilty. I suffer from extrem PTSD among other conditions. MY service dog is very reconised as my medicine by diferent programs. Section 8 or Federal Houseing calculates what I spend for Vet bills and the care of my service Dog.This is reembersed to me, calculated through my Bills. Sence section 8 and housing does this, the food stamp and TANF also regonises My service Dog. On your aplication they are seen as your medicine this is why you have to claim them on any goverment forms. And because these federal programs claim him then I also have to claim him on my taxes..

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 12:54 Permalink
mark (not verified)

Does NHS in Scotland cover

Does NHS in Scotland cover service dogs

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 18:18 Permalink
Michael Alexander (not verified)

We would like to find out

We would like to find out about getting my daughter who has autism and epilepsy behavior issues and self-destructive behavior a service animal that would help her improve her quality of life if you have any suggestions or know of anything that could help would be great

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 21:46 Permalink

In reply to by Michael Alexander (not verified)

Hi Michael,

Hi Michael,
I really could not say, you may want to consult with a behavioral health provider regarding this.

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 15:14 Permalink
Jami Enox (not verified)

I have severe depression

I have severe depression problems and service dog o need to help I cry everyday and lonely and really need a service to help me I don’t have any money to get a service dog if anybody could I would appreciate it please let me know

Sat, 01/27/2018 - 15:17 Permalink

In reply to by Jami Enox (not verified)

Hi Jami,

Hi Jami,

I am so sorry to hear that. Things can get better though. Service dogs are great for that. Wishing you nothing but the best.

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 09:21 Permalink
Michael (not verified)

I am legally disabled for P.T

I am legally disabled for P.T.S.D's and Grandmaul Seizures. I have a dog who has been a big part of looking after me when I have siezures and when my P.T.S.D's come on. I have been trying to get her registered as a service dog, but can't afford the cost of it. Does anyone know how or if there is any group that help with that?

Thu, 02/22/2018 - 18:16 Permalink
Tina (not verified)

Hey im looking some where to

Hey im looking some where to take my dog to clean her teeth its really bad and stinks someone told me since i have medicaid i may be able to get her checked. Is this true if so where can i go?

Sat, 03/10/2018 - 20:49 Permalink

In reply to by Tina (not verified)

Hi Tina,

Hi Tina,

You may want to check the yellow pages for the town/city you live in. I am sure there are a lot of places that can help.

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 16:14 Permalink
Alyssa (not verified)

My psychotherapy doctor

My psychotherapy doctor recommended that I get a dog to help with my emotional disabilities; i.e. Manic Episodes and Asperger's Syndrome. Would something like this article help out in the future?

Sat, 04/28/2018 - 09:03 Permalink

In reply to by Alyssa (not verified)

Hey Alyssa,

Hey Alyssa,

It's possible that you may abel to get a service dog, however your health insurance will not be able to cover it. Best of luck.

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 15:47 Permalink

In reply to by Alyssa (not verified)

Hey Alyssa,

Hey Alyssa,

It's possible that you may abel to get a service dog, however your health insurance will not be able to cover it. Best of luck.

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 15:47 Permalink

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