Frequently Asked Questions

Answered by INDEX Information Specialists

I have a recent disability. What kind of services are available for me?

Is it possible to have a volunteer visit me as a companion?

How can I locate accessible rental housing?

How can I obtain medical transportation?

How can I get a homemaker?

What is an Independent Living Center?

Where can I get help to pay a heating bill?

What is the most affordable way to get prescription medications?

Where can I find funds for home modifications (e.g., ramps)?

How can I apply for social security disability benefits?


I have a recent disability. What kind of services are available for me?

View the fact sheet entitled “Basic Programs & Services for People with Disabilities” or call INDEX. Based on your specific disability and town of residence, INDEX staff will provide you with contact information of an Information Specialist at a member agency of the of the Massachusetts Network of Information Providers (MNIP).

Is it possible to have a volunteer visit me as a companion?

View our “Volunteer Opportunities / Services” fact sheet or call your local Independent Living Center for suggestions of volunteer companion resources. If you are over age 60, call your local Aging Service Access Point (ASAP) to find out if there is a Friendly Visitor and Companion Program in your area. Volunteers visit lonely, isolated elders, providing support and assistance needed to make the days more pleasurable and enabling frail and isolated elders to remain in the dignity of their homes.

How can I locate accessible rental housing?

You can locate accessible housing by calling your local Independent Living Center. The housing specialist at your local ILC will assist you with locating available accessible units in your area and help you with the application process. Alternatively, visit Mass Access, the Accessible Housing Registry. Mass Access lists locations of available housing by city or by town, rent level, neighborhood features, type of housing, particular accessible features and vacancy status.

How can I obtain medical transportation?

Call your local Council on Aging Office. Depending upon the town, a council may provide local medical transportation to seniors and to people with disabilities.

Visit The Ride, the MBTA Paratransit Program that provides transportation to those who can not use public transportation because of a physical, cognitive or mental disability. Call (617) 222-1523 or (800) 533-6282 to request an application package. It usually takes twenty-one days to process the application. Once eligible, you must make reservations in advance.

Visit our Transportation and Travel Resources page. It has a section entitled Accessible Transportation and Travel Resources, which is a list of links that includes ones to free- and low cost medical transportation services.

Call disability-specific organizations to find out if there are volunteer drivers for medical appointments. Example: The Cancer Society of Boston (617) 556-7400 offers free transportation to radiation- and chemotherapy appointments for residents in the areas of Boston, Mattapan, Brookline and Newton.

How can I get a homemaker?

Homemaker services include but are not limited to grocery shopping and other errands; meal preparation; light housekeeping; and laundry services. Homemakers can often be hired, at an hourly rate, through home care agencies and visiting nurse associations (VNAs).

To find those programs that offer homemaker services, visit DisabilityInfo.org.  Choose ‘Programs and Services’, enter the town you live in and ‘Search’. You can refine your results by selecting Services/Homemaker.

Or you can hire a homemaker yourself by putting a classified advertisement in a local newspaper. Your local Independent Living Center can provide you with tips on how best to find, to hire and to manage home help.

The Massachusetts Commission for The Blind provides homemaker services to legally blind persons under the age of 60 who have a serious medical problem in addition to their blindness that is preventing them from performing necessary homemaking tasks. Services are provided on the basis of priority of need. In order to be determined to be in the highest priority category for this service, a legally blind person must:

  • live alone; or
  • live with minor children only; or
  • live with another adult with a severe disability who is incapable of performing these tasks; or
  • need assistance in preparing meals, grocery shopping, or laundering clothes.

Other legally blind persons who are eligible for homemaker services will receive them only if sufficient funds are available and based on priority of need as determined by the Commission. Boston area (800) 392-6450; Worcester area (508) 754-1148; Western Mass (800) 332-2772.

If your age is 60 or over, you may qualify for homemaker services through Elder Services. Call the Executive Office of Elder Affairs at (800) 882-2003 or TTY (800) 872-0166 for information regarding services offered by local Elder Services offices.

Children with disabilities may be eligible to receive services through the Division of Perinatal, Early Childhood, and Special Health Needs. (800) 882-1435 or TTY (617) 624-6001

What is an Independent Living Center?

Independent Living Centers are private, nonprofit, consumer-controlled, community-based organizations providing services and advocacy by and for persons with all types of disabilities. An ILC‘s goal is twofold: to create opportunities for independence, and to assist individuals achieve their maximum level of independent functioning within their communities. There are eleven ILCs in Massachusetts.

Independent Living Centers provide a range of services. The services include information and referral; independent living skills development training; peer support; advocacy; housing assistance; educational- and social / recreational activities. A personal attendant program is offered at some of the ILCs.

Where can I get help to pay a heating bill?

Visit DisabilityInfo.org

  • View all resources related to the search term “fuel assistance”.
  • View all resources related to the search term “utilities”.

View “Basic Programs & Services for People with Disabilities“. This fact sheet supplies information about “Discounts on Utility Bills: Energy Assistance”.

Massachusetts Aging & Information Locator (MADIL) Quick Links Energy Resources

What is the most affordable way to get prescription medications?

The MCPHS Pharmacy Outreach Program (formerly known as MassMedLine) is a community service program of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences which is staffed by professional case managers and licensed pharmacists.

By calling toll free number or visiting walk-in center (located at 25 Foster Street in Worcester) you will receive a comprehensive review of your medications and prescription drug coverage. MCPHS provides information that includes assistance with accessing affordable prescription drug programs through the Medicare Drug benefit, as well as medication assistance options for other uninsured or underinsured residents of Massachusetts.

  • Toll-Free Help Line: 1.866.633.1617
  • Available Monday through Friday; 8:30am – 5pm

Where can I find funds for home modifications (e.g., ramps)?

The Home Modification Loan Program (HMLP) provides low-and no-interest loans to modify the homes of elders, adults and children with disabilities. Any homeowner who has a disability or has a household member who has a disability, rents to an individual with a disability may apply for this loan. Contact Susan Gillam at (617) 204-3739.

Massachusetts Assistive Technology Loan Program (ATLP), operated by Easter Seals, provides low-interest loans to qualified people with disabilities and their families to purchase assistive technology devices and services. If you are not eligible for home modifications under the HMLP, you can apply to the ATLP. Contact Ferol Smith of Easter Seals at 1-800-244-2756 ext 431 or 800-564-9700 (TTY)

Call an Information Specialist at your local Independent Living Center for possible Title VII funding. Home modifications under $1000 are eligible under this program.

Western Massachusetts (Stavros) Home Sweet Home Program benefits many of the folks in western Massachusetts (Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin Counties) who are in need of wheelchair ramps and durable medical equipment to access safely their homes and community The ramp program is a coordinated effort of volunteers, donated funds and donated materials. Modular ramp units are built and then installed at slated locations. For more information, e-mail Lois Brown, lbrown@stavros.org, at Stavros or call her at 800-804-1899, ext. 240

Veterans can call the Veteran’s Administration at (800) 827-1000 and ask about the “Specially Adapted Housing Program.”

View our “Possible Financial Resources Fact Sheet“.

How can I apply for social security disability benefits?

A10. Quoted from the Web site of the Social Security Administration (SSA):

The Disability Starter Kit” will help you get ready for your disability interview or online application. Kits are available for adults and for children under age 18.The starter kits provide information about the specific documents and the information that we will request from you. We will ask for more details during your interview or when you complete the online Disability Report. The kits also provide general information about the disability programs and our decision-making process that can help take some of the mystery out of applying for disability benefits.”

Disability Starter Kit on the Web site of the SSA
For more information, call the SSA at 800-772-1213.