Disability home aide programs are designed to help people with disabilities stay in their own homes, and stay out of nursing homes. This program provides free or low-cost home care attendants, along with a variety of other services. If someone is already caring for you, and this care is helping you stay in your home and out of a nursing home, the program may provide a small salary for that person.
Step One: Learn About the Process (Optional)
How does it work? What services will I get? Who will be my home aide? Can I hire my friend? Can I hire my spouse? Will I get approved? What do I do if the Medicaid office says I’m not eligible?
Step Two: Find a Program
Disability home aide programs are called different things in different states. They may be called “Medicaid Waiver” or “IHSS” or “Home and Community Based Services” or something else. How to Find Programs in Your State.
Step Three: Contact the Program
Let them know you would like to schedule a home visit for an assessment for home care. If you know the name of the program you are interested in, let them know the name. Tip: If you cannot call, you can try emailing. You can also have a friend or family member call and answer questions on your behalf.
Step Four: Short Phone Screening
When you first call, some programs will ask you a few questions right away. This is a short (five minute) phone screening where they ask basic “yes” or “no” questions: How to Have an Initial Phone Screening.
Step Five: If Something Went Wrong
If they told you that you aren’t eligible or another problem came up, take a look here: Five Ways to Mess Up Your Application for Medicaid Home Care. If no problems came up, skip this step.
Step Six: Financial Screening
If you are already on Medicaid, you can skip this step. If you are not already on Medicaid and you are told you won’t qualify: How to Apply When You Have Too Much Money. Reader’s Tip: Many of our readers report being given misinformation by their local Medicaid office. If you get turned down, don’t give up hope.
Step Seven: Being Declared Disabled
If you are already on Social Security disability, you can skip this step. If you are not on disability, in most states, you can still apply. If someone at Medicaid tells you that you are required to be on disability, double check. It may not be true. Do I Need to Be On Disability to Get Medicaid Home Care?
Step Eight: Scheduling a Home Assessment
The most important questions in the home assessment are the personal care questions. It can help a lot of you take some time to think about these questions ahead of time. 21 Questions To Ask Yourself About Personal Care
Step Nine: Assessment
The assessment is usually 1-2 hours and will be more details on your care needs. The assessment is done over the phone, or they will send someone to visit you in your home: How to Have a Full Assessment
Step Ten: Doctor Form
In some states, they will have a form for your doctor to fill out. There are a few important things you need to know about: Doctor’s Forms When Applying
Step Eleven: Decision is Made
The case worker will decide if you meet the criteria for this program. She may tell you right away, or you may find out in a letter afterwards. Learn more about: Will I Get Approved? You can also check out these: Sample Policies in WA, VA, OR, FL, NE, MI, and CO
Step Twelve: Approved!
After you get approved, they will decide how many home aide hours you get and what other services you can get. If step twelve did not work out the way you wanted, don’t panic. Some of our readers report that they had to apply more than one time. See links below for info on denials.
Next Steps: Get More Help
If you need more hours:
Some housing programs will give free rent to your caregiver:
If you live with your caregiver:
If you want more secrets:
A bunch more things it might help you to know:
Success Stories: Applying
- Teri Gets Approved for Lyme Disease
- Dianthus Gets Approved for POTs
- Juniper Gets Approved for ME/CFS
- Meet Jane and Sally (Rent Example)
Success Stories: Hours
Our readers report that the state home care programs are much, much better than anything else out there. If you are willing to be persistent, most people can find a way to qualify. However, some people really can’t. If you are completely sure a state home aide program is not for you, you can see if there are any other options available in your area: How to Get a Caregiver.
Where Can I Get Help?
- Area Agency on Aging – Call them even if you are young!
- Centers for Independent Living – Run by people with disabilities
- Disability Rights Organizations – Legal issues and problems
Great article by Karin Willison How to Get Medicaid Personal Care Attendant Services if You Have a Disability
What Do You Think?
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