Skip to main content

Mobile Lifestyle Advisor

Need answers to your mobility questions?? Want to know the latest in Assistive Technology? Would you like to learn money saving tips on how to purchase your next van, scooter or lift? Get these answers and more from “The Mobile Lifestyle Advisor” brought to you by Disabled Dealer of Virginia and West Virginia. This monthly column might make you roll with laughter, cringe with fear, or jump for joy, but it guarantees to produce solutions that you can take to the bank. So “Let’s Get Rolling”.


Q. One of the selling techniques of the VMI Northstar was the Sure Deploy system, which provided a secondary way to run the ramp system in the advent the main battery under the hood failed. As a self-driver, I could never be able to reach down and hand crank out the ramp so I have always migrated to fold out ramp vans. I am told that the Veteran’s Administration still requires a backup battery system on all style wheelchair vans. Why waste the money?? It seems this cost could be better utilized somewhere else in the VA system. David E.—VA

A. David your observation is correct with regard to the Sure Deploy system. However, you have overlooked a major obstacle that presents itself when the battery under the hood fails. The DOOR.! (as well as other possible modifications that work off the van battery) You still have to open the door manually for the Sure Deploy to run the ramp in or out. Many self-drivers cannot maneuver the opening of the side sliding door from the inside the van. If you use a driver side transfer seat, it stops too. To have a fully functional backup system, like the one the VA requires, you must be able to run all parts of the conversion as well as the van itself. Sure deploy is great but the big picture requires this added expense. Chalk one up for the VA , they do have their wounded warriors in mind. Another money saving tip, if you are looking to purchase a preowned van, ask you dealer if they have trade in vans from former Vets. These are always the best buys.


Q. My son has a waiver that allows us to spend up to $ 5000.00 per year for assistive technology equipment that will benefit his quality of life. Eight years ago I had a lift put in our full size van which the waiver covered. We are now looking at a lowered floor minivan and would like to use his waiver money to help offset the cost of a van. Because the van is completely modified for his needs, the counselor says that the funds cannot be used for the purchase of the van. THIS IS IDIOTIC!! Do you know of any recourse? Cynthia T.—VA.

A. This issue has come up many times around the state and I have found that some clients have been able to use waiver money on vans that have already been modified. In my thinking, what better use for assistive technology than a van outfitted for your son. What I have learned from those that have made the system work, is that you first off need a Community Service Board counselor that understands the system and your particular need. Because the money has to pass to an authorized Medicare provider, (which most CSB’s are) they will be the billing party. I have found that few CSB’s are familiar with the process. Luckily a past client shared a great contact that may be of assistance to you, Commonwealth Catholic Charities in Richmond. They are contracted with CSB’s throughout the state to process waiver applications. I would contact them at 1-804-545-5926, let them know what area you live in and see if you can work thru them. I also know that separate invoicing may be required, breaking out the valuation of the handicapped conversion equipment from the valuation of the van. This is common in the VA system and under the DARS umbrella, so I can see why it is also necessary for the Medicare waiver system. This is a great question which I know can benefit many families around the state.

HOTTER DAYS ARE ON THE WAY. Make sure you know the proper technique to using the A/C in your van and check if before you will actually need it. The long winter months can play havoc on a A/C system.