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Lift Chairs - Everything You Need To Know


Table of Contents


  1. How do you plan on using your lift chair recliner?

  2. Choosing a covering

  3. Style of Your lift recliner

  4. Reclining Positions

  5. Measuring For Your Lift Chair Size

  6. Your Lift Chair Recliner Weight Capacity

  7. Optional/Desired Features for Lift Chairs

  8. Delivering Your Recliner

  9. State Medicaid Information, Medicare, VA benefits & Private Insurance



Selecting a Lift Chair That Fits Your Needs

Decide how you intend to use a lift chair

The first thing to consider when selecting a lift recliner is how you intend to use it. The most important potential uses to consider include assisted sitting, assisted standing, and extended periods of sitting and sleeping. Physical requirements are certainly uppermost in anyone's concerns. Here is a checklist of considerations:

  • Will you be sleeping in the lift recliner chair? If so, do your feet need to be above your heart to address circulation? Will you require a mattress pad to address repeated sleeping use? Will the covering need to be impervious to incontinence or similar physical issues?
  • Will you be sitting in the lift chair recliner for long periods of time? If so, carefully inspect below, the capabilities of two position lift chairs. We suspect you will not be happy with its position limitations. Three position and infinite position lift chairs are far more comfortable for extended use as the users body can be placed in a larger variety of positions.
  • Do you plan to use the recliner lift chair for assisting standing and sitting only? If so, two position lift chairs will be less expensive than others, and serve your purposes nicely.
  • Will you be eating and drinking frequently in the recliner lift chair? If so fabric selection may be important to you or a custom made lift chair table might be appropriate.
  • What common activities do you engage in while sitting? Telephone? Reading? Lots of media such as TV, computer use, or games? These issues are important because special options are available to address each of these topics. Knowing that these special adaptations exist and asking the questions will prevent you from discovering a desirable option after a purchase. And we all know how that feels.
  • You would be surprised to discover that many of our customers have pets that sit with them in their lift chair recliner. Do you have a pet you intend to sit with? If so does the pet sit next to you, and how large is it? You may want to ask about increasing the width of your seat area to accommodate your pet.
  • Are you overweight? If so by how much? This is not the time to be embarrassed and fudge on your answer. Lift chair recliners that are made to handle additional weight above the norm must be constructed more rigid in the seat area. This rigidity compromises comfort. Ask our specialist to steer you toward chairs that meet your weight requirements, but do not exceed them so you will achieve the maximum level of comfort.
  • Any and all physical ailments, injuries, or limitations should be addressed. Is there a softness level in cushions that is more comfortable for you? Are there certain body positions that are more comfortable than others? Are you in a wheelchair or would be entering a lift recliner from the side by removing the arm be of value to you? We would like to stress again that this is not the time to be shy. Our specialists can tailor a chair to your best comfort level only if you describe what works for you.
  • Maybe you are in good health and good shape, but just an old timer like me. In that case it pays to just focus on comfort as so many others have happily discovered. After all, what's wrong with assisted standing? At my age I appreciate assisted anything. Our lift recliners are some of the most comfortable pieces of furniture you can buy, tailor made specifically for you. Why not treat yourself or your loved one to a nice lift recliner chair?
  • Lastly, consider the space you have available for an electric lift chair. A typical lift recliner must sit from 18 to 22 inches away from the wall. If you don't have that much space you might need a wall hugger model that works well with only 6 inches of required space from a wall.

Call us at 1-800-880-2514, describe your physical characteristics, and your personal desires for added comfort. Our lift chair specialist will help you select a recliner lift chair that is right for you.

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Choosing a covering

Selecting the covering is not just about appearances or furniture matching. Consider the following list of other thoughts on the matter:

  • Food and drink? Years ago our customers would lean toward vinyl coverings to eliminate concerns of staining from food, drinks, and other spills. Now modern fabrics and improved chemical stain guards allow you to select a fabric of your choice with little concern for keeping it stain free. Even the imitation leather products are easy to keep.
  • Incontinence - by far the biggest concern, when it applies. There just are no answers that you want to hear when considering how to manage incontinence. All fabrics are designed to shed liquids and those that are not are usually chemically treated for stains. Liquid simply runs off, down the sides, and becomes impossible to reach with cleaning tools. The result? On a hot day everybody clears the room. OK, just a little respectful humor, but the straight answer is to use absorbent pads or collection devices designed for incontinence. There's just no other good answer.
  • Miracle Fabrics? If you look at the fabric options available for Pride lift recliner chairs you will see a great example of just how diverse fabric options can be. Each of these fabrics offer different qualities, and they aren't dubbed "miracle fabrics" without good cause. Pride's Promessa for example is impervious to stains. Our best advice when selecting from amongst a variety of fabrics is to call any of our lift recliner specialists at 1-800-880-2514, and ask about qualities of the fabric you require. Here are two links to the actual manufacturers web pages for these miracle fabrics:

    Crypton Fabric
    Ultra Fabrics

  • Does it breathe well? Air flow issues are compounded the longer one sits in a lift recliner chair. If your lifestyle suggests that you will be sitting in your recliner lift chair for long periods at a time you should go with a fabric. Vinyl and leather are poor choices in this case. Our very best advice is to ask our lift chair recliner specialist if the covering you desire breathes well. Golden Technologies Brisa synthetic leather for example is an exception. It breathes very well, but if you did not ask you would probably assume otherwise.
  • Fire codes? All of the recliner lift chairs manufactured today must meet federal fire codes. California has additional fire code requirements for all lift recliner chairs that are to be used in public places. The California fire code is entitled CA TB133. Lift Chairs 101 offers several chairs that meet this code. Ask our recliner lift chair specialist to point these chairs out to you if this is a requirement. In the meantime you can go to the following web site and read more about code.

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Select a style

Selecting a style should be a process that matches the features of a recliner lift chair to the comfort of the eventual user. Some important considerations, along with our comments, are listed here:

  • Button backs - these lift recliners are more traditional looking and have one or more rows of buttons in the back to tighten the fabric. They are quite comfortable, but do not have the "cushy" feel that you get with pillow back models. This type of lift recliner is usually selected due to matching décor, or personal comfort preference.
  • Pillow backs - lift recliners of this type have horizontal rows of pillows falling down the back. They are generally a softer surface for those who prefer to sit in the chair as opposed to upon it. One very interesting feature of certain pillow backs such as the Pride Mobility 570 are the customizable cushions. The stuffing material can be removed via a zipper in the bottom of the cushion, and placed in the pillow above or below it. With a little experimentation you can create a contour to perfectly fit the curvature of your own spinal column.
  • Arm trays - if you want to have a tray table for reading, eating, and so on there are electric lift chair models made specifically with built in trays hidden in the arms. See Pride's LL 571
  • Wall huggers - when space is limited there are recliner lift chairs available that can set as close as 4 inches from the wall. One example is the Pride lift chair recliner model LL-805.

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Select a reclining position

Every person has a preference regarding what is comfortable for them. It is important to carefully select a lift recliner that will provide the correct position for your activity and personal preference. Sounds easy enough but the terminology can be confusing. Here are the proper definitions for each type of lift chair recliner position:

  • 2 position lift chairs - these models will only recline about 45 degrees back from the upright position. You will not be able to extend your legs straight out as in a full recliner. Many customers that only require temporary assistance due to injury, or do not plan to spend extended periods of time in the lift chair will select these models. It is important to note that these lift recliners are not limited to two positions. They will stop anywhere along the line of travel, but will not recline back beyond 45 degrees. The chair and footrest operate in unison with one control.
  • 3 position lift chairs - three position lift chairs will recline all the way back like a typical full recliner, but will not lay flat for sleeping. Although they are called three position recliner lift chairs they will stop anywhere along the line of travel and are not restricted to just three positions. The chair and footrest operate in unison with one control.
  • Infinite position lift chairs - infinite position means that this model lift recliner will recline flat, making it a good candidate for sleeping. In fact, several models such as the Pride LL70L offer an optional mattress for added comfort while sleeping. Another important feature of this chair is that the chair and footrest operate independently using separate control buttons.

A full explanation of lift recliner positions can be viewed at our positions page

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Getting the right size lift chair

We have come to what is arguably the most important concern you can have when choosing the right lift chair. Every person is uniquely constructed and lift chairs must be matched as precisely as possible to the person who will be using it. Height, weight, width, and proportions are all important factors. Most customers are buying their lift chair for the first time and do not appreciate the importance of measuring. Nor do they know the best way to measure.

  • Your favorite chair - If you have a favorite standard recliner that you have been happy with you can measure the seat width, the height of the back from seat to top, and the distance from the seat cushion to the floor of that chair. Once you have the measurements you should call our lift chair specialist at 1-800-880-2514, and ask them to recommend lift chairs that have the same measurements as your old favorite.
  • No chair to measure - If you do not have a chair to measure there are other solutions. The easiest and most accurate way I have found involves sitting on a reasonably firm couch or love seat. Place two cardboard boxes (cereal boxes work), one on each side of you, on the couch. Move them in toward you until they are slightly touching your hips. This is the optimal seat width for most people. If you want to sit with your pet or if you like a bit more room just move the boxes outward until you get the width that seems perfect for you. The next measure is from the surface of the back cushion to the back of your knee joint. This is the seat depth measurement. You want your legs to hang just over the end of the seat while continuing to touch the surface of your future lift recliner. The distance from the seat cushion top to the top of the chair will be approximately 2 inches above the point where your head rests on the head rest area. The goal with this measurement is to make sure your head does not extend above the head rest of the chair or you will not have proper head support. The last measurement is from the seat top to the where your feet would ordinarily hit the floor. You want to make sure your feet will hit the floor. If a lift chair is moving in to the raised position to allow exiting the chair your feet must be on the floor through the entire motion to provide stability. If you get this measure wrong and your feet hang above the floor while sitting in your chair you may not be able to safely use the lift feature without sliding down toward the floor as the chair stands you up.
  • Extra tall - For those persons above 6 feet lift extensions are available for the footrest. Ask our lift chair specialist at 1-800-880-2514 to explain this feature, and identify lift recliners with this feature available.

Here are the measurements in summary:

  • Floor to top of chair seat cushion
  • Depth of the seat from front to back
  • Width of the seat from side to side
  • Seat cushion top to the top of the chair back

Note: Lift Chairs 101 allows you to view all of the lift chair offerings by size for convenience. To access this feature here is a convenient link.

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Weight Capacities

A fair number of customers pay little attention to the weight capacity of the lift chair they are selecting. This is a mistake. The seat area of a lift chair must be reinforced to accommodate above average weight. This reinforcement makes the seat considerably more firm. The best choice is a chair that states a capacity that closely matches your weight. For those who experience significant overweight 500 to 600 pound models are available, and one bariatric model is available that will handle up to 700 pounds.

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Select desired features

  1. Heat - different model lift chair recliners offer heat options, but the heat is applied in different areas depending upon the model you select. Be sure to ask your lift chair specialist exactly where the heat is applied, and whether there are separate controls for each area as well as heat intensity. This option can aid greatly in blood circulation under certain circumstances.
  2. Massage - in my opinion this is a terrific luxury that should be selected whenever cost is not an issue. Even when cost is a concern massage options do not add significantly to the cost.
  3. Extra pillows - I must admit that there are a number of customers that purchase extra pillows. The only reason I can offer is that they are placed on other furniture in the room to balance the look of the room. They do not add to the comfort of the chairs in my opinion.
  4. Extra fabric - extra fabric is selected generally to allow for covering other items in the home such as footrests or pillows.
  5. Arm covers/Head covers - most of the chairs come with these covers but it pays to ask about the chair you select for purchase since all of them do not include this option.
  6. Removable arm rests - this option is used primarily to facilitate easier entry in to the chair for those customers that are transferring from a wheelchair in to the lift chair.
  7. Tray tables - these tables are custom designed for lift chairs so as not to interfere with the lift mechanism.
  8. Flip open arms with tray table - a nice option for those that plan to use a tray table and would like to hide it away when it not used.
  9. Media chairs - this is a specialty chair that works great for those who are going to be watching a great deal of tv or using a computer for long periods.
  10. Mattress for sleeping - This option simply provides a removable mattress that can be used with an infinite position lift chair to facilitate sleeping.

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Preparing for delivery

There are very few of our customers that give any consideration to preparations for the delivery and set up of a new recliner lift chair. There are actually some very important considerations that you should review just to make sure you do not have to scramble at the last minute to make things work. Many of our customers are elderly folks with limited mobility which can compound problems such as uncrating and removing a box, or getting an over size box through a door. Here is a list of things to know when you are expecting a delivery of a lift recliner chair:

  • Door width - Lift chairs come in a wide variety of cartons. Depending on the chair and whether it breaks down the box can be stubby and square in shape, or a longer rectangular configuration. Considering that all doors are not created equal it is mandatory that you measure your door and know your box size if you have limited strength or mobility. If the box will not fit through the door the delivery driver will leave it at the curb if you have not purchased inside set up. If you have purchased inside set up door width is not a concern. Call our lift chair specialist today at 1-800-880-2514 and ask for the carton size to make sure your carton meets your expectations.
  • Dumping the box - If you are receiving and setting up your lift chair without assistance you should know that the cartons lift chairs are shipped in can be quite large, and rigid in nature. They do not break down or crush easily meaning that some effort may be required to get the box out to the curb or to the trash. There are many delivery drivers who are known to have uncrated the chairs for our customers and taken away the box in their delivery truck. This is not part of the service provided by trucking lines however, and you must assume that this will not happen.
  • Steps and upper floors - When drivers deliver your lift recliner they do not always have a means of getting a carton up steps. This is particularly true in the case of a second story delivery. Drivers are not required to take a carton up steps to effect a delivery. This is a nationwide restriction placed on most cartons that are considered of such a size or weight that a delivery person cannot move them without a dolly or similar tool. If you have steps and do not notify us in advance of delivery the carton will be left at curbside, and it will be your responsibility to take it from there.
  • Refusals - Refusals are defined as an attempted delivery that you refuse to accept. We do not understand this practice and have seldom encountered a valid reason for refusing a delivery. If the recipient has passed away or encountered other reasons for never needing the lift chair since the purchase date, then refusing delivery may make sense. There are significant charges that apply when a delivery is refused. Most of our customers cannot understand why in many cases the penalties for delivery refusal can be half or more of the cost of the chair. Lift Chairs 101 must pay to have your chair shipped to you and the delivery company does not care whether you accept delivery or not, they have already been paid. If you refuse delivery they charge us again to ship it back. Since these expenses would otherwise be lost, and since it is through no fault of our own, we charge you for the fees. Instead of refusing a delivery it is always best to contact Lift Chairs 101 to explore other options.

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Lift chairs and how they relate to Medicare, VA benefits, Medicaid, and Private Insurance

Medicare - Medicare will often reimburse for lift recliners. To see how how Medicare can help pay for your lift chair, please visit our Medicare Page to see how it may apply to your specific situation. Also, we provide a certificate of medical necessity explanation that can be printed.

VA Benefits & Private Insurance - Our experience has been that private insurers can never be predicted so the best policy is to call your agent and ask directly if a chair will be covered. We also suggest the same strategy for VA benefits. The VA has reimbursed for medical mobility equipment many times in the past, but there are restrictions based upon your unique circumstances, and you simply must contact the VA and ask for the best answers.

Medicaid - Unlike Medicare, Medicaid does not have a standard coverage policy due to the unique policies of each state. Medicaid is only partially funded by the Federal government and the rest by each state. We think we can help however, by providing the following links to the Medicaid information for your state.

Alabama - 
Alaska -
Arizona (AHCCCS) -
Arkansas -
California (Medi-Cal) -
Colorado -
Connecticut -
Delaware -
Florida (AHCA)-
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Hawaii (Med-QUEST)-
Idaho -
Illinois (HFS)-
Indiana -
Iowa -
Kansas - 
Kentucky -
Louisiana -
Maine (MaineCare)-
Maryland - 
Massachusetts (MassHealth)-
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Mississippi -
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New Jersey -
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New York -
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Oklahoma (SoonerCare)-
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South Carolina - 
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Tennessee (TennCare)-
Texas -
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Vermont -
Virginia -
Washington -
West Virginia -
Wisconsin (ForwardHealth)-
Wyoming -

We hope this information about lift recliner chairs has been helpful to you. Please call one of our lift chair specialists at 1-800-880-2514 anytime we can be helpful.

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Some of the great lift chair manufacturers featured on Lift Chairs 101.
  • Pride Mobility
  • Golden Technologies