Savings Are There if You Know Where to Look
If you have become disabled as a result of sarcoidosis or another health condition, searching for ways to save on medical and prescription costs is often at the top of your mind. But there are numerous other discounts, ranging from travel to lodging, that you may be overlooking.
Amtrak provides 10 percent off rail fares for adult passengers with a disability — a discount that also extends to those traveling with a disabled person as a companion. If you are traveling on an Amtrak Downeaster train (Boston, Massachusetts, to Portland, Maine), you are eligible for a 50 percent discount. Reduced fares can also be found on regional public transportation. For example, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority and Pennsylvania’s SEPTA take 50 percent off fares. On New Jersey Transit, you can save half or more off the regular one-way fare while personal assistants ride for free. Be sure to check for transit fare discounts in your local area.
The America the Beautiful Access Pass allows those with a permanent disability free lifetime entry to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites, including national parks and national wildlife refuges. Passholders may also receive a 50 percent discount on some amenity fees, such as camping and swimming. Many state park systems also offer discount passes to those with permanent disabilities. California slashes vehicle day use, family camping, and boat use fees in half; Montana provides free entry and discounts on camping fees; and New York gives state residents with disabilities free or discounted access to parks, historic sites, and recreational facilities.
If you have to travel for healthcare and need to book hotel stays, be sure to inquire about discounts. For example, the Kahler Grand Hotel in Rochester, Minnesota, offers special rates to patients and visitors of the Mayo Clinic and a free shuttle to its campus. Patients of the Cleveland Clinic get special rates at several area hotels, which also provide free shuttles. In the past, I’ve received significant discounts. Always check the hotel’s regular rates before booking, however, because sometimes deals that are being offered may be cheaper than the medical rate. Some hospitals and medical centers offer discounted parking rates for those with disabilities, so be sure to inquire if you are using your vehicle to travel there.
Scholarships and financial aid are available to both students with disabilities and caregivers. AARP lists some opportunities for caregivers. It is free to search for scholarships open to students with disabilities and might save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in the long run.
Earned Income Tax Credit
Even if you fall under the income threshold for filing a tax return, it could benefit you to file one. The IRS reports that many who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit — which could bring a refund of up to $6,318 — fail to claim it. The only way to receive an eligible refund is to file a tax return and claim the credit.
Living with a disability can be expensive. It never hurts to ask whether a discount is offered, as some businesses do not publicly post them. Don’t overlook a chance to save whenever you can.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.