Medicare will pay to replace equipment that you rent or own at any time if it is lost, stolen, or damaged beyond repair in an accident or a natural disaster, so long as you have proof of the damage or theft.

Replacing equipment means substituting one item for an identical or nearly identical item. For example, Medicare will pay for you to switch from one manual wheelchair to another, but it will not pay for you to replace a manual wheelchair with an electric wheelchair or a motorized scooter.

If your equipment is worn out, Medicare will only replace it if you have had the item in your possession for its whole lifetime. An item’s lifetime depends on the type of equipment but, in the context of getting a replacement, it is never less than five years from the date that you began using the equipment. This five-year timeframe differs from the three-year minimum lifetime requirement that most medical equipment and items must meet in order to be considered DME by Medicare. The item must also be so worn from day-to-day use that it can no longer be fixed.

Note: Medicare covers repairs for worn DME if the equipment has not reached the end of its lifetime. Medicare will pay for repairs up to the cost of replacement.

To be eligible for a DME replacement, your primary care provider must write you a new order or prescription that explains your medical need. It is most cost-effective to use a Medicare-approved supplier who takes assignment.

To find out if Medicare covers the equipment or supplies you need, or to find DME suppliers in your area, call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit You can also learn about Medicare coverage of DME by contacting your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).

Return to: Medicare In-depth

This content was created and copyrighted by the Medicare Rights Center ©2021. Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities. These materials are presented here with support from and may not be distributed, modified or edited without Medicare Rights’ consent. takes pride in providing you as much information as possible concerning your Medicare options, but only a health insurance broker licensed to sell Medicare can help you compare your plan options from various insurance companies. When you’re ready, we recommend you discuss your needs with a Licensed Sales Agent.