What is the Difference Between a Recliner and a Lift Chair?

Photo of a power lift chair recliner in the seated position with the footrest extended and elevated in a room with a gray carpet.

What is the Difference Between a Recliner and a Lift Chair?

Whether everyone in your circle is getting one or you’re simply looking for a much-needed living room upgrade, a lift chair can make a great choice that is both functional and stylish.

But, as you begin your search for the chair with the best features, the coziest cushions, and (of course) the colors and fabrics that will perfectly complement your living room, you might not really know what separates the lift chair from its close relative — the recliner.

In this guide, we’re breaking down some key differences between the two. While a recliner might offer some of the functions you’re looking for (like a controllable footrest), a lift chair might be a better match for your mobility needs.

What Is A Recliner?

A recliner features two key components:[1]

  1. A backrest that reclines to create a more relaxed sitting position
  2. A footrest that rises to prop up your legs while you sit

But, recliners aren’t always standalone chairs. You can also find reclining seats in:

  • Loveseats (where one or both of the “seats” recline and offer a footrest)
  • Multi-seat sofas (where one or more seats act as recliners, but non-reclining seats are included in the construction)

While some recliners offer additional features — like cupholders, USB chargers and motorized backrests and footrests — they’re still distinct from lift chairs.

What Makes A Lift Chair Different From A Recliner?

Although recliners can be motorized, a lift chair offers a distinct motorized feature — a lift mechanism that helps you stand up from a seated position.[2]

While both recliners and lift chairs can help you kick back and relax, only a lift chair can help you get back on your feet. Let’s explore more details about what separates the lift chair from the recliner.

The Lift Mechanism

A lift mechanism is a unique feature of a lift chair. This motorized component raises the seat, tilts the chair and moves the footrest out of the way to help you gradually stand upright after sitting (or reclining) in the chair.

Why might you need this lift mechanism in your next piece of furniture?

  • You’re looking for a stationary chair that provides extra stability when you’re transitioning to your wheelchair or walker.
  • You recently had surgery and you need extra support while standing up (and sitting back down) during the healing process.
  • You need extra help standing up to answer the door, use the bathroom or grab a glass of water from the kitchen while you’re relaxing in the living room.

No matter the reason, lift chairs can help you stand up with extra stability and ease.

[1] Home Questions Answered. What Is a Recliner?. https://www.homequestionsanswered.com/what-is-a-recliner.htm

[2] WebMD. What to Know About Lift Chairs. https://www.webmd.com/health-insurance/what-to-know-about-lift-chairs

Ergonomic Features

In most recliners, the footrest and the backrest move as one unit — when the backrest reclines, the footrest rises higher.

But, lift chairs offer more ergonomic freedom. Two particular types of lift chairs offer increased ergonomic control:

  1. In infinite position lift chairs, the backrest and the footrest are independently controlled, giving you the freedom to put your feet up as high as you’d like while remaining upright.
  1. In two-position lift chairs, the backrest doesn’t recline far enough to lay completely flat — the chair provides additional support for people who want to remain mostly upright in their chair.

Insurance Coverage

While recliners typically aren’t covered by health insurance policies, a portion of lift chairs can be. Since lift chairs are mobility tools (just like wheelchairs and walkers), people with mobility conditions documented by a healthcare provider could receive financial support from their insurer when it’s time to purchase a lift chair.

Medicare, for instance, may cover up to 80% of the cost of the lift mechanism in a lift chair. But, you must meet their criteria. We recommend the best way to determine if you can get a portion of your lift chair funded is to speak with your doctor and insurance company to assess your specific needs and options.

Pride Mobility Lift Chairs

Pride Mobility lift chairs bring comfort, reliability and relaxation to your daily life. We offer a lift chair for every lifestyle in eye-catching colors and designs.

The Heritage Collection, for instance, offers two-position lift chairs in more than a dozen fabric options and a broad range of other customization features.

If you’re looking for a lift chair that can lay flat, check out our infinite position model — the VivaLift! Atlas Plus , these chairs offer unmatched comfort and countless configurations.

We also offer three models with heat and massage options, including the Infinity Collection chairs. Infinity chairs offer independently controlled backrests and footrests, an optional backup battery and a USB charging port.

Find a Pride Dealer—and the Perfect Lift Chair

When it’s time to replace your armchair or add a new one to your living space, a lift chair can give you the relaxation options you’re looking for and the mobility support you need to stay active.

At Pride Mobility, we offer the best lift chairs, electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters on the market today. Our products are made with you in mind — we work closely with the people who use our products to offer the features and tech that meet your everyday needs.

When you’re ready to purchase a lift chair, find a Pride dealer near you.


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