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Will Health Insurance Pay For A Service Dog

Where Can I Find Financial Assistance For Service Dogs

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Many organizations that raise and train service dogs offer financial assistance for those who arent able to pay the full price. However, these are typically geared toward individuals with specific disabilities and backgrounds. For instance, both Smoky Mountain Service Dogs and Mutts with a Mission offer service dogs and financial assistance to veterans.

To find a program that offers financial assistance, you may want to speak with your local disability advocates, the VA or other organizations. They may be able to guide you to local resources that help reduce the cost of training your dog.

Financial assistance for ownership costs

Veterinarians may offer discounts for service dogs, and you may be able to claim the cost of purchasing, training and caring for your dog on your taxes. While this isnt direct financial assistance, it can go a long way in reducing the overall price of a service dog.

Does A Service Dog Need A Vest

No, a service dog doesnt need a vest. The American Disabilities Act doesnt require a service animal to wear a vest, ID tag, specific harness, or anything identifying it as a service dog.

However, a service animal must be under the control of the handler. ADA does require service animals to be harnessed, leashed, or tethered. Otherwise, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

Social Security Disability Service Animal Assistance Programs

There are numerous nonprofit institutions that inform, educate and give service animals to individuals with disabilities. Those who pass the qualification are given discount prices or even free of payment. However, it is very crucial to understand that many of these programs have long waiting lists. So, obtaining a service dog or other medical assistance animal will take some time.

If you are looking for nonprofit options for service animals, here are a few organizations that you might consider:

Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind Canine Companions for Independence International Association of Assistance Dog Partners

Moreover, other smaller organizations also provide service animals at no cost or reduced cost for qualified applicants. However, these institutions often have long lines. The good thing is that they can provide an budget-friendly assistance animals for individual with disability that have a tight budget.

Social Security Disability Payments

Although medical insurance doesnt cover the costs of obtaining, feeding or providing veterinary care for service animals, disability benefits can help cover these expenses. This is easily affordable for pet owners with ongoing service animal expenses as the monthly benefits provide a consistent income.

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Animals In Rental Units

The definition of an assistance animal is relatively broad. An assistance animal is one that provides physical, emotional, or mental support to their owners. They do not necessarily need professional training to be considered an animal of assistance.

A service dog requires professional training to perform a specific task. Thus, they are working animals and are not considered a pet.

Service dogs are exempt from no pet policies when you are renting.

Can Your Landlord Charge Extra For Your Service Dog

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Landlords who are pet-friendly usually charge an extra fee for animals. And, if the complex has a no pet policy, some owners think they will have to pay extra for their service animals. Like a sort of pet rent.

But, landlords cannot legally charge extra. Remember that the law does not classify service dogs as pets, meaning they are exempt from pet fees.

Keep in mind that tenants are responsible for any damage their pet or support animals cause. The landlord will charge you a reasonable rate to cover damages. They may also collect an initial security pet deposit in the event that the animals cause damage.

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How Do I Get A Service Animal

Taking care of an animal can be a great way to improve your mental health. But not every landlord allows pets. You can get around this if a mental health professional certifies that you need an emotional support animal. There are other types of service animals tooits important to understand what youre trying to get, because the steps are different for each type.

Choose The Best Pet Insurance Plan Type For You

Do you want a pet insurance that goes the extra mile every time, or do you want to hold down costs with an accident-only plan that wont pay anything for pet illnesses? Or something in between?

Comprehensive pet insurance plans that cover a wide range of health-related problems plus wellness are typically the most expensive, but it might be worth considering if you want complete coverage.

Pet insurance can generally be broken down into these plan types:

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What Is The Difference Between A Guide Dog And A Service Dog

A guide dog is trained to assist blind and visually impaired people by avoiding obstacles. A service dog is trained to help those with physical or hearing disabilities by alerting deaf and hearing impaired individuals to a variety of household sounds or by assisting in the performance of a wide variety of tasks depending on need and training .

How Does Pet Insurance Work

veterinary health insurance benefits | for qualified Veteran service dogs

If you have a pet insurance plan, youll generally have a deductible amount that you pay for veterinarian bills before coverage starts. After that, youll still pay your vet directly and then submit your bills to the pet insurer for reimbursement. The insurance company will send you reimbursement until it has paid the maximum your plan allows in a year, such as $5,000. Some plans offer unlimited payout maximums.

Nationwide also offers a major medical plan for pets, which covers illness and accidents using a defined annual maximum payment for each individual condition or service.

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What Service Dog Insurance Coverage Do I Need

There are several different types of dog insurance that you might consider getting for your service animal, considering how expensive they can be and how instrumental they are to your quality of life. Several examples include liability, life, and health insurance for service dogs, each of which we’ll cover below.

Note: You’ll also want to make sure you have auto insurance with dog injury protection if your disability does not restrict you from driving.

What If I Have Other Pets In My Home

PAWS does place an Assistance Dog in homes that have cats, birds or other small caged pets. Effective September 1, 2012, no PAWS Assistance Dog will be placed in a home with any other dog, unless it is a retired PAWS Dog or working Assistance Dog from an Assistance Dogs International or International Guide Dog Federation-accredited agency for someone else in the household. It has been our experience that other dogs in the home can interfere with the bonding and training process of the Assistance Dog Team.

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These Organizations Provide Service Dogs For A Fee

4 Paws for Abilityspecializes in placements with children, especially those who have been turned away from other agencies because they are too young, too disabled or not disabled enough. They also place dogs with veterans who need them.

The only thing that 4 Paws for Ability requires is a physician statement that the person requesting the service animal actually has a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Unfortunately, the service animals at 4 Paws for Ability are not provided at no-cost. They have a partial payment model which requires you to pay $17,000 of the $40,000-$60,000 cost of training the animal. The fee is not tax deductible, either. If youre wondering how to get a service dog from 4 Paws for Ability, be sure to ask about their fundraising options!

The Service Dogs for America also provides service animals. You can submit the preliminary application for free, but there is a $50 non-refundable fee for the full application.

If you are selected to receive a service animal, you will need to pay the full $20,000 fee. Fortunately, the SDA also has a dedicated staff member that helps with fundraising, grant applications, payment plans and scholarships to help approved clients find the money to pay for their service dog.

This fee includes at least three weeks of training at the SDA campus, guest housing during the training, all training materials, home visits, fundraising assistance, recertifications, follow-up consultations and more.

What Documents Do You Need To Live With Your Service Dog


There are misconceptions about whether or not you need to provide documentation to a landlord. The ADA may be why

The ADA permits service dogs to accompany their owners wherever members of the public are permitted. The law prohibits people like grocery store managers from asking for proof of certification.

This leads many to believe the same goes for landlords. However, landlords CAN ask for documentation.

As a tenant, you should inform your landlord that you have a service dog, but you do not need to explain your disability or have a doctors note.

In some cases, this will be enough. But, especially if they have a strict no pet policy, some landlords will ask for documentation.

According to the ADA, Covered entities may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal, as a condition for entry. Whether youre renting or taking your service dog to a restaurant you are not required to provide proof of service dog designation.

Here are two final pieces of advice when it comes to documentation:

  • Consider getting renters insurance. This can put landlords at ease knowing that you can cover damage caused by pets and service animals.
  • Keep in mind that a landlord cannot ask about the specifics of your disability or request proof of it.

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Does Standard Human Health Insurance Cover The Cost Of Esas

So now that we understand the different categories of assistance animals and what they do, lets return to the topic at hand. Will your insurance policy cover all of or even a fraction of the exorbitant costs that need to be paid to obtain and care for an emotional support animal?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not inspiring. No insurance company, whether privately owned or operated at the state or federal level, will cover the cost of obtaining, feeding, and providing veterinary care to an assistance animal, whether they are an ESA, a service dog, or a therapy dog.

While your insurance policy may help you with a lot of other costs relating to your health and well-being, any costs relating to your assistance animal, such as adoption fees, food, veterinary bills, and training fees, will have to be paid out of pocket.

This is probably not the answer you had hoped to hear when searching for ways to fund an ESA. However, rest assured that all hope is not lost. There are other avenues outside of just insurance coverage that can be used to obtain financial assistance with ESA adoption.

Lets examine a few of these options below.

How To Register Your Pet As An Emotional Support Animal

You can pay to register an ESA online, but it isnt necessary. There is also no single official registry for ESAs. However, you may need to certify your pet as an ESA, for instance, to bring them along on a plane. To do so, youll need to get an ESA letter, which is typically written by a physician or mental health professional.

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Eric Stauffer is a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. His priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best place to get it.

Written byEric Stauffer Founder & Former Insurance Agent

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc…

Farmers CSR for 4 Years

Which Breeds Are Best For Service Dogs

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The best breed for your service dog depends on your needs. The three most common types of assistance dog are:

  • Labrador retriever
  • Golden retriever
  • German shepherd

However, many types of dog are suitable for service work and certain breeds are better for certain jobs. When searching for the right dog breed, its important to contact trainers and disability advocates. These resources will be able to lead you to the appropriate dog for your needs.

When to go for a big dog

For people who need stability for a physical limitation, a Labrador retriever or German shepherd is considered helpful in providing support when you are struggling to maneuver in certain spaces.

When to go for a medium or small dog

Medium-sized breeds like poodles and collies are often used for people whose disabilities who dont require the strength and size of these larger breeds. If you need a Hearing Dog or one that scents conditions like epilepsy or low blood sugar, a smaller dog might be more suitable. They can easily fit in public spaces where a large dog may seem inappropriate, like at a restaurant or on a bus.

Can I use a miniature horse as a service animal?

Yes, you may be able to use a miniature horse as a service animal. The Americans with Disabilities Act was revised in 2010 to allow miniature horses individually trained to perform a service or task for individuals with a disability to be service animals.

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Service Animal Assistance Programs

Luckily, when your insurance fails you, other social services can help make up for the deficit. In this case, Social Security Disability Service Animal Assistance Programs are your knight in shining armor.

These are nonprofit organizations that work to raise and train assistance animals. They offer adoption services to people with disabilities, and depending on the state of your need, they may offer these services for free or at a reduced cost.

These organizations typically have long waiting lists, so it could be some time before you actually obtain your ESA. But they provide a wonderful service and are a great option to have for people in need of financial assistance.

Some of these organizations include the:

  • International Association of Assistance Dog Partners
  • Canine Companions for Independence

Shopping For Insurance For A Service Dog Or Service Animal

While we have done the fine print examinations of all of the companies above to search for any exclusions applying to guide dogs and service animals, the first question to ask when shopping for pet insurance is to confirm that all service animals and yours in particular do qualify for coverage.

There is no general reason why a pet insurance company should have any exclusion that is not in the fine print, but rules do change over time and policy information available online may not be up to date. Asking is always your best bet, and it will prevent the insurance company from claiming you werent upfront about your service animal when applying.

Once you have confirmed that your pet qualifies for coverage, take the time to consider the various options for coverage. Pet insurance works on a reimbursement basis that is a percentage of the bill, so it is important to weigh what you are willing to pay monthly for premiums against the out of pocket costs youll be responsible for in the event of a claim.

In order to understand pet insurance and your coverage options, take a minute to read through our full guide to pet insurance. Comparing based on rates alone does not give the full picture since plans vary in terms of what they cover, caps on coverage, deductibles, and percentages of reimbursement. It is important to understand what youre getting for the price.

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Get Financial Help Getting A Service Dog

If you are thinking about how to get a service dog by enlisting some financial help, the following organization can help:

9. 4 Paws For Ability

4 Paws For Ability helps people with disabilities, especially children and veterans, receive service dogs at a fee. If other agencies have turned you away as being young or not disabled enough, you are a prime candidate at this organization. Their placements are mainly targeted at people who other agencies have rejected. Youll be required to have a physician recommendation to prove your disability and the need for a service animal.

When figuring out how to get a service dog from 4 Paws For Ability, bear in mind that their service dogs arent free. Youll be required to pay part of the training fee for the service animal. Typically, recipients pay a $17,000 non-tax-deductible fee out of the $40,000-$60,000 required to train their service animal.

The good thing is, 4 Paws For Ability has fundraising options to help recipients raise the required money.

10. The Service Dogs for America

SDA is another organization that offers financial assistance for service dogs. Know the following fees when thinking about how to get a service dog from The Service Dogs for America:

See our guide on frugal living tips with a big impact on saving money.

Medicaid Medicare And Service Animals


State and federal medical coverage through Medicare and/or Medicaid meets many of your ongoing healthcare needs, but neither of these programs cover the cost of a service animal.

In fact, no health insurance, even from private companies, covers service animal expenses. There are however other ways of getting a service dog or other assistance animal, even when youre on a restricted income.

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