More often than not, hearing or visual disabilities can greatly impede one’s ability to use a telephone, and the aids that can help them overcome this are usually far too expensive for the average American.
With the help of the STAP program, the federal government can ensure that disabled Americans have access to affordable assistive equipment and services that would make using the telephone and other broadband services much easier for them.
The program will cover the cost of the majority of phones the HHS approved for the program, and you’ll have to meet several different requirements in order to qualify for assistance.
This will be your one-stop guide to STAP, how it works, how the HHS administers it, and what you’ll have to do in order to collect your benefits from it.
Keep reading and make using the phone much easier for yourself or a loved one dealing with a disability.
STAP assistance is generally distributed through vouchers that the HHS hands out, which can then be used to pay for assistive devices and services that make using the telephone an easier experience for a disabled person.
However, you’ll have to meet a number of requirements before receiving yours, among which are that you’ve been at least 5 years old at the time of submission, have completed all the necessary application forms you’ve been provided with, and can provide valid proof of residency along with a certification from a licensed professional that you’ve been diagnosed with a qualifying disability.
At times, processing your application can take up to 6 months, although local service providers can assist in completing and certifying these applications at no cost.
Once you’ve been approved for assistance, you’ll receive a voucher for a specific product or service, and you’ll only be able to exchange it with some of the many vendors participating in the program.
How does it work
Even though the vouchers are designed to help you buy a very specific device, you won’t be required to write down the make and model of the device itself, but rather, just the type of device it is.
In this sense, the vouchers are split into a number of different categories, ranging from those you can use to buy amplified phones to vouchers that use talk-back number dialing, each with a maximum dollar amount tied to them.
You should note, however, that you can only apply for vouchers that will help you with using the phones that the HHS approved previously, and you should carefully comb through the list in order to avoid any issues during the application process.
On top of this, your disability will also play an important role in determining the type of voucher you’ll receive, and if you’re a deafblind person, you’re most likely going to receive an amplified phone voucher.
Even though assistance through STAP isn’t one-time, you’re eligible for a single voucher every 5 years, or for as long as your device’s warranty lasts.
This date is often referred to as your anniversary date for STAP, and you won’t be able to reapply for assistance until this period has expired.
The maximum amount of time you can apply before your 5-year anniversary with STAP is 6 months, after which you’ll receive a letter stating exactly when you’ll be receiving the voucher you’ve qualified for.
On the other hand, if you applied only 3 months prior to your anniversary date, the ODHHS won’t be sending you a letter, and you’ll only receive the voucher in the mail after the 3 months have passed.
If you haven’t already used your previous voucher and it’s expired, you can send it to your local HHS office and have it replaced with a brand new voucher that has a new expiration date of six months from the moment it’s been handed to you.
Finally, if you’ve applied for the wrong voucher, it’s not the end of the world, and you can reapply for a second one without issue, so long as you haven’t used the original voucher you received.
By simply mailing in another request to receive a voucher for a different category, the HHS will examine your reapplication and determine whether you’re eligible for the requested voucher, after which you’ll either receive a letter declining your request or the voucher you needed in the mail.
However, if you apply under change of disability, implying that your disability has improved, the HHS will not hand you an additional voucher as long as the device you’re currently using can provide you with telephone network access.
This means that even if your disability has subsided to a degree, you can still keep using your TTY device, even if you wouldn’t normally need it to access a telephone network.