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Does Medicare Cover Lift Chairs?

by Arthur Fitzwater | Licensed since 2011
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This article was updated on: 11/16/2016

Medicare may cover the seat-lift mechanism of your lift chair if you meet certain conditions. Learn how Medicare coverage of lift chairs works.

What is a lift chair?

A “lift chair,” also known as a seat lift chair, refers to a chair with a motorized device that helps boost you into a standing position or lower you back into a seated position. It’s meant to help people who have trouble getting up and down from a chair unassisted.

A lift chair isn’t the same as a stair lift, which is a seat that lets you ride up and down a staircase. It’s also different from a patient lift, which is a device that helps transfer patients to and from a bed or wheelchair.

Lift chairs can be helpful for patients who would otherwise be unable to stand up or sit down from a chair without help. Your doctor may prescribe a lift chair as medically necessary if you have a condition that could benefit from regular movement and your mobility would be difficult without the device.

Medicare coverage of lift chairs

Medicare Part B may cover a portion of lift chairs as durable medical equipment (DME) in certain situations.  There are two components to a lift chair, the seat-lift mechanism as well as the chair itself.  Original Medicare only covers the seat-lift mechanism, the device that actually lifts the patient from the chair, as only this component meets the criteria for DME coverage. This applies even if the seat-lift mechanism is built into the chair. Medicare may cover the lift mechanism portion of the lift chair if your doctor determines that it’s medically necessary and may help your condition.

You may be eligible for Medicare coverage of a seat lift if:

  • You have severe arthritis in your hip or knee
  • You have muscular dystrophy or another type of neuromuscular disease.
  • Your doctor determines that regular movement is medically necessary and that the seat lift may improve your condition or prevent it from getting worse. The seat lift must be prescribed as part of your treatment plan.
  • Because of your condition, you are unable to stand up and would otherwise be confined to a chair or bed without the equipment.
  • You’re able to control the seat lift yourself, the device operates smoothly, and the equipment helps you sit or stand without other help.

Medicare doesn’t cover seat lifts that use a spring-release mechanism or have features that aren’t medically necessary, such as a recliner function.

Medicare Part B may also cover medically necessary patient lifts if you need help being moved to and from your bed to a chair, wheelchair, or toilet. Similar to seat lifts, your doctor must verify that the patient lift is medically necessary to improve your medical condition or keep it from worsening.

Getting a lift chair from Medicare suppliers

If you need a seat-lift mechanism for your lift chair, you’ll need to get the durable medical equipment through a supplier that is enrolled in the Medicare program, or Medicare may not cover the cost. You’ll also save money if you get the durable medical equipment through a Medicare-participating supplier; these are providers that are contracted to accept the cost set by Medicare as full payment for the equipment. So, if you rent or buy your seat lift chair from a Medicare-participating supplier, you won’t have to pay more than the cost that the Medicare program has set for the equipment – in this case, you’ll pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount, and the Medicare Part B deductible applies.

Keep in mind that if you have Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) and live in an area that is affected by the Medicare Competitive Bidding Program, you’ll need to get your seat lift chair from contract suppliers, or Medicare won’t cover the cost. You can visit Medicare.gov to look up whether you live in an area that is part of the Competitive Bidding Program.

Your coverage rules and costs may be different if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans are available through Medicare-contracted private insurance companies and are required to cover at least the same level of benefits as Original Medicare (except for hospice), so you’ll be covered for the seat-lift portion of lift chairs under a Medicare Advantage plan as well. However, your costs may vary by plan.

If you get your Medicare benefits through a Medicare Advantage plan, talk to your plan about which suppliers to use when getting your lift chair. Depending on the rules of your plan, you may also need to get the equipment from certain suppliers to be covered.

Do you have questions about getting Medicare coverage for the equipment you need? I can tell you about the various choices you might have for Medicare coverage in your area. Go ahead and click the “View profile” link below if you’d like to view my profile. If you’d like to connect by phone or have me email you information, just follow the links below. To research plan options on your own at any time it’s convenient for you, click on the Compare Plans buttons on this page. But if you’d like to talk to me or another licensed insurance agent right away, you’re welcome to call us during business hours.

Call our licensed insurance agents at 1-844-847-2660, TTY users 711; Monday through Friday, 8AM to 8PM ET.

This website and its contents are for informational purposes only. Nothing on this website should ever be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment for a health condition, including decisions about the correct medication for your condition, as well as prior to undertaking any specific exercise or dietary routine.

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Arthur Fitzwater |
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Licensed Insurance Agent since 2011
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