Why Is Living With a Disability So Expensive?

Disabled people face a variety of out-of-pocket expenses. Adults with disabilities and chronic illnesses have a more challenging time managing monthly expenses, saving for the future, and making ends meet because of these expenses.

According to the National Disability Institute, researchers estimate that households containing an adult with a disability require, on average, 28 percent more income (or an additional $17,690 a year for a family at the median income level) to obtain the same standard of living as a comparable household without a member with a disability.

Disabled people often require special transportation, personal care services, equipment, and home modifications. For example many disabled people need wheelchair ramps, roll in showers and accessible vans. My power wheelchair costs more than $20,000 and my walker is more than $1,000. The annual cost of my PCA hours is approximately $53,000.

A wheelchair van can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000, depending on the manufacturer, model, and amenities included. In comparison last year, the average price of an used car in the United States was $33,000. According to Kelley Blue Book, the average cost of a new car was $49,507.

Besides transportation, disabled people often need accessible housing. Showering can be challenging for people with limited mobility. One solution to make hygiene easier is a roll in shower.

Remodeling your bathroom is required to install a roll-in shower. Of course, this requires the removal of your existing bathtub. Traditionally, upgrading a bathroom that involves installing a roll-in shower can cost $10,000 or more.

Ramps can allow disabled people to get in and out of their homes. They are particularly helpful for people who use mobility equipment. A standard wheelchair ramp costs between $1,000 and $4,000. The cost of building a wheelchair ramp will vary depending on the materials used.

Accessibility is not a luxury, and it saddens me that it frequently comes with a high price. Disabled people should have the right to accessible transportation and housing. Accessibility should be considered a fundamental human right rather than a privilege.


Bartlett, Jeff S., and Todd Young. “Worst Deals on New Cars Right Now.” Consumer Reports, Consumer Reports, 12 Jan. 2023, https://www.consumerreports.org/buying-a-car/worst-deals-on-new-cars-a3991316773/.

“Converting vs Purchasing a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle.” Ability Center, Ability Center, 16 May 2022, https://www.braunability.com/abilitycenter/blog/convert-wheelchair-van-vs-purchase-wheelchair-van/.

Goodman, Nanette, et al. “The Extra Costs of Living with a Disability in the U.S. — Resetting the Policy Table.” National Disability Institute, National Disability Institute, Oct. 2020, http://www.nationaldisabilityinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/extra-costs-living-with-disability-brief.pdf.

McWilliams, Matt. “How Much Does It Cost to Build a Wheelchair Ramp?” Expert Home Report, Expert Home Report, 11 July 2022, https://experthomereport.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-build-a-wheelchair-ramp/.

Simpkins, Russell. “How Much Does It Cost to Install a Roll in Shower?” Shower Bay, Shower Bay, 25 July 2022, https://showerbay.com/cost-install-roll-in-shower/.

White, Emmet. “The Average Used Car Price Is Now $33,000.” Autoweek, Crain Communications, 25 July 2022, https://www.autoweek.com/news/industry-news/a40690607/average-used-car-price-is-now-33000-dollars/.

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