How to Apply for a Disability Home Aide

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Artwork: Elizabeth D’Angelo

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? Frequently Asked Questions.

Reader’s survey: How Does The Home Aide Program Work in Your State?

Reader’s stories: “How I Got Approved for a Home Aide”

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

If you cannot call, or calling will worsen your mental health symptoms, you can try sending an email. Let them know that phone calls are difficult because of your disabilities and ask if you can communicate by email. Another option is to ask a friend or family member to call for you. Make sure it’s someone who is comfortable answering a few questions about your needs.

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 step three.

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 MoneyReader’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. How Do I Know if I Will Get Approved?

Sample policies and assessment tools: Sample Policies for Medicaid Waivers in WA, VA, OR, 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. Most readers report getting approved for between 10 and 30 hours per week.

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 ideas below.


Success Stories

Having Problems?

If you got turned down, or got told you can’t apply: Having Problems Applying for a State Home Aide?

You can always appeal or apply again! Dianella applied, got denied, applied again a few months later, and got approved! How I Got Denied (and then approved!) For Medicaid Home Aides

Next Steps

A bunch more things it might help you to know: The Sleepy Girl Guide to State Home Aides

Don’t Give Up Too Easily

Don’t give up too easily! Our readers report that the state waiver programs are much, much better than anything else out there. Please don’t give up just because you have been denied once or someone has told you that you are not eligible.  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 Applying?

Reading Room

Great article by Karin Willison How to Get Medicaid Personal Care Attendant Services if You Have a Disability

What Do You Think? 

Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. Updated January 2019. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons:

8 thoughts on “How to Apply for a Disability Home Aide”

  1. Oh My, You are a lifesaver!
    I have been so lost and alone for 3 1/2 yes NOW I went from Dental profession to sick disabled homeless starving, person with no help mental or physicallyunderstanding.
    Thanks

    Like

  2. This site is seriously the BEST!
    Get comfy, favorite drink and drive down the rabbit hole of endless information!! 🌻💜🌻

    Like

  3. I’m the single mother of 4 and when me an my husband split up do to abuse . My moms friend let us move in . He is a type one diabatic on the last stages of kidney failur an just was approved for his transplant … I have not been able to work because his diabetic needs his sugar drops an if I’m not around he would die.. I go to all appointments with him and cook all his meals clean his home test his sugar regularly . And manage his bank account an bills.. Plus take care of my 4 school aged kids . It is becoming overwhelming financially I can’t even buy my kids presents on their birthdays because I’m only doing little jobs at the neighbors house to get money for his appointments because none of his family offers help an he only gets a little over 700 a month an his house payment is over 500 . I really would love to stay an care for him because he helped us but I just can’t do it without being paid anymore it make mine an my kids relationship strained …. Please help

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    1. Hey Monica,

      Something went wrong last comment time deleting it.

      I am glad that you’re there to help your friend and hope that you can get some more support for your situation.

      I think the first step is to talk to him and see if he wants to apply. If he he does, from what you have written above it looks like he might qualify financially, but I don’t know if he will qualify it terms of care needs or not.

      If he is interested, perhaps he can read with you some of the articles in the links above to see if this program looks like a match for him and to better understand how the interview process works.

      I hope it goes well for you.

      Like

  4. Honestly, I wasn’t even aware that you can actually hire the services of a caregiver through a Medicaid waiver. It’s good that I was able to come across your post. You said that through this waiver program, it is no longer necessary for your elderly loved ones to move to a nursing home. Instead, they will be provided with free home aides or care attendants. I will make sure to read further on the requirements regarding this Medicaid service before considering the option. Thanks.

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    1. Hi Bobby,

      Yes, this program is designed to keep people out of nursing homes. They don’t provide 24-hour care though, so if someone needs round the clock care it wouldn’t be a match. I hope you are able to find the help you need.

      Like

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