The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission in partnership with Easter Seals MA is delighted to announce the receipt of funds from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to expand the Massachusetts AT Loan program. Soon more residents with disabilities in the Commonwealth will be able to purchase assistive technology and build or repair their credit!
For over a dozen years, Easter Seals MA has operated the Massachusetts AT Loan program and helped residents apply for and obtain financial loans to purchase AT devices and services valued above $500. The Mass AT Loan program has provided these loans with a banking partner at a competitive interest rate and with favorable terms for repayment. Since 2005, the program has financed over $14 million to residents with disabilities and their family members; borrowers have purchased adapted vans, hearing aids, home modifications, environmental control units, and other devices to improve their quality of life or take advantage of new opportunities for work or study.
"The problem has been that with a traditional lender, the program has not been able to serve everyone," notes Eric Oddleifson, Assistant Vice President for Assistive Technology and Community Support Services for Easter Seals. "Applicants with no credit or a poor credit history have rarely been approved.”
Starting in January, however, the Mass AT Loan Program will seek precisely these applicants. Thanks to assistance from the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission's MassMATCH program and funding from ACL, the Mass AT Loan Program will expand to finance AT mini loans for devices and services with a very low fixed interest rate. Adults and seniors who have been unable to access credit and finance the equipment they need or want will have a supportive way to do so. "The fund will be directly administered by Easter Seals," says Oddleifson. "We understand the lives of applicants with disabilities and the transformative power of AT."
Ann Shor, Director of Independent Living & Assistive Technology at the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission sees an opportunity for the new fund to make a significant impact. "It's exciting to be able to offer this opportunity to all adults and seniors, but particularly for young adults," she says. "Transition-age students those ages 18 to 22 usually have no credit history but often need computers, specialized software, and training to be successful at school or work. The AT Mini Loan program could help a lot of young people to become financially independent and launch their own lives."
Massachusetts residents with disabilities and seniors, including people living on fixed incomes and with poor or no credit histories. Although the traditional loan program can be utilized to purchase needed AT between $500-$2,000 and is still an option, the mini loan program has a greater latitude to work with individuals with disabilities to obtain needed technology since all loan decisions are made by the program rather than a banking partner. Durable medical equipment is also considered AT.
For devices valued less than $500, consider the Long-term Device Loan Program. The LTDLP is available to households that can demonstrate financial need. Devices loaned through the LTDLP may be used for as long as it is needed at no charge to the borrower.
Information and an application form will be available online at http://www.massatloan.org/. Stay tuned!
The Mass. AT Loan Program is operated by Easter Seals MA and MassMATCH, the state's Assistive Technology Act program, administered by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. The Administration for Community Living is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services.