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IHSS – In Home Support Services
What is IHSS?
IHSS is a statewide program administered by each county under the direction of the California Department of Social Services. It provides those with limited income who are disabled, blind or over the age of 65 with in–home care services to help them remain safely at home.
The four different IHSS programs
There are four different IHSS programs: The Community First Choice Option Program (CFCO), the Medi–Cal Personal Care Services Program (PCS), the IHSS Independence Plus Option Program (IPO) and the Original or Residual IHSS Program (IHSS–R). Each of these programs provides the same services, but have different eligibility criteria based, in part, on whether they are funded with federal money.
What services does IHSS provide?
Services include, but are not limited to:
Who is eligible for IHSS?
Any California resident is eligible for IHSS if they:
Note:Residents of long term care facilities may not receive IHSS in the facility, but may apply if they are expected to be discharged so that IHSS is in place when they return to their homes.
What are the financial requirements for IHSS?
To be eligible for IHSS, a person must be enrolled in Medi-Cal. For more information on financial eligibility for Medi-Cal, see CANHR’s fact sheet on Community-Based Medi-Cal programs: www.canhr.org/factsheets/medi-cal_fs/PDFs/FS_Community-Based-Medi-Cal-Programs.pdf. Individuals who receive Medi-Cal with no share of cost (SOC) through SSI-linked Medi-Cal, the 250% Working Disabled Program, Aged and Disabled Program (income limit of $1,271 for an individual and $1,720 for a couple as of April 1, 2019), or expansion Medi-Cal, will also be entitled to IHSS with no SOC.
Individuals whose income is too high to qualify for IHSS with no SOC may still be eligible for IHSS and Medi-Cal with a SOC under the Aged-Blind-Disabled Medically Needy Program (ABD-MN). If so, they will have to pay their SOC to their IHSS provider (or other Medi-Cal providers) before getting covered IHSS.
Those who qualify for IHSS and Medi–Cal with a SOC will receive two Notices of Actions (NOA). One NOA from the Medi–Cal program will state the SOC amount, and the other NOA from IHSS will state they are eligible for benefits.
How Do I calculate My Share of Cost?
Share of Cost is based on countable income, including earned income and unearned income. Earned income includes salaries, wages, tips, professional fees, and other pay for physical or mental work. Unearned income includes social security, disability payments, and other income one receives without doing any work. Examples include disability benefits, income from a trust or investment, and profits or funds from any source other than work.
In determining Chare of Cost, Medi-Cal deducts a Maintenance Needs Allowance (MNA) of $600 for a single person from the total countable earned and unearned income.
The following amounts are also deducted each month:
Example 1: Disabled Consumer over Unearned Income Limit
Mr. Lee gets $1,300 from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) every month. It is his only income.
Mr. Lee’s countable income is $9 above the $1,271 income limit for the Aged and Disabled Medi–Cal program. His share of cost for Medi–Cal would be $680 – because of the $600 Maintenance Needs Allowance ($1,280 – $600 = $680). However, if Mr. Lee incurs $9 in additional medical premiums each month, he could reduce his share of cost to $0.
Example 2: Aged Consumer over Unearned Income Limit with Medical Deductions
Ms. O’Connor is 84 years old and receives $1,500 a month in Social Security benefits.
Ms. O’Connor’s countable income is $24 above the $1,271 income limit for the Aged and Disabled Medi–Cal program ($1,295 - $1,271 = $24). That means Ms. O’Connor will be evaluated under the Medically Needy Program with a Share of Cost, outlined below.
Ms. O’Connor’s Share of Cost for Medi–Cal would be $695 ($1,295 – $600 MNA = $695). Thus, she must pay or incur $695 each month in medical expenses before Medi-Cal will cover her remaining medical expenses. Ms. O’Connor can reduce her Share of Cost to $0 if she reduces her income to $1,271 by purchasing an additional $24 monthly on insurance premiums (such as dental, vision, etc.) Proof of these must be submitted to the Medi-Cal office at the beginning of the month to ensure that the share of cost will not be taken out of the IHSS providers’ checks.
Example 3: Aged/Disabled Consumer with Earned Income and Work Related Deductions
Mr. Smith earns $1,000 at his part–time job monthly, and receives $500 from Social Security. He also pays his neighbor $200/month to drive him to work, because he cannot drive due to an injury to his legs.
Mr. Smith is eligible for no Share of Cost Medi-Cal and IHSS because his income is under the Aged & Disabled income limit of $1,271.00.
Who provides IHSS services?
Each county can choose different modes of services delivery: Contract, County Homemaker, or Independent Provider (IP). However, it is up to the individual to decide what mode of service delivery they wish to receive. In the Contract mode, the County contracts with an outside agency that employs IHSS caregivers. In the County Homemaker mode, the County trains and employs caregivers. Most IHSS clients use the IP mode of service, where the client hires, fires and supervises caregivers.
In most counties, Public Authorities have been established to improve IP service delivery. IHSS pays IP’s who are hired and supervised by the recipient or the recipient’s guardian/authorized representative. Many IP’s are relatives of the client. Payments are issued by the State Controller’s Office, directly to the IP. Wages for IHSS caregivers vary from county to county. For a list of IHSS caregiver wages by county, please visit www.cdss.ca.gov/agedblinddisabled/res/CoIPWages/IPWages.pdf. In the Bay Area Counties, Public Authorities have been able to negotiate higher wages and comprehensive health and dental benefits.
How do I apply for IHSS?
Call or visit your local Department of Social Services: www.canhr.org/factsheets/misc_fs/html/
The Bet Tzedek IHSS Companion (www.bettzedek.org/our-services/resources) provides detailed information about how to apply to IHSS and receive the most hours possible.
How does IHSS calculate how many hours I get?
The State has limited monthly services hours to 195 hours per month for non–severely impaired applicants and 283 hours per month for the severely impaired. The County Social Services Agency is responsible for doing a needs assessment for each client at the time of application, every twelve months thereafter, and whenever the county has information that the recipient’s physical/mental condition or living/social condition has changed. The number of hours authorized may change with each evaluation.
The assessment evaluates:
If you are denied Medi-Cal or IHSS or if you do not agree with the number of hours authorized, you may appeal the decision by filing for a fair hearing. The appeals procedure is outlined on the back of the notice you will receive. For assistance in filing an appeal, contact your local legal services office. (See CANHR’s page on Helpful Links: www.canhr.org/Helpful_Links.html).
Page Last Modified: August 13, 2019