What are In-Home Supportive Services?

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In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) provide people with low income who are blind, disabled, or 65 years old or older with personal assistance and in-home services so they can safely stay in their homes or continue working. Services range from assistance with household chores to personal care and paramedical services. IHSS is often seen as an alternative to assisted living or nursing facilities.

Who is eligible?

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All California residents living in their own homes who get Medi-Cal and need IHSS.

What services does In-Home Supportive Services provide?

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IHSS includes:
  • Household chores, such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry
  • Personal care services, such as dressing, bathing, and feeding
  • Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments
  • Protective supervision, and
  • Paramedical services as ordered by a physician.

Who provides IHSS?

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Some counties have contracted IHSS care providers. Community care providers, friends, neighbors, and relatives can provide services as well. You are responsible for hiring, firing, and supervising your IHSS caregiver.

Who pays for IHSS?

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In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) are financed by state, county, and federal funds. Depending on your countable income, you may have to pay for a portion of the cost of services. This is known as share of cost.

If you work, you may qualify for no-cost IHSS even if you think you have to pay a share of cost. That’s because if you have a disability, you could sign up for Medi-Cal’s California Working Disabled (CWD) Program. Read more about CWD in DB101’s article on Medi-Cal.

How many hours of IHSS will I get each month?

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Depending upon your circumstances, you may be eligible to get up to 283 hours of IHSS each month. A county social worker will conduct a needs assessment to figure out the services you need and how many hours you qualify for.

How do I apply for IHSS?

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Call or visit the local county In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) office to fill out an IHSS application and verify your eligibility for the program. Next, a county social worker will come to your home to conduct a needs assessment to figure out the services you need and how many hours you qualify for.

How do I find out if I qualify?

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After the needs assessment, IHSS will send you a letter called a Notice of Action that will let you know if you have been approved or denied services. If approved, you will be notified of the services and number of hours authorized for each service. If services are denied or you are not happy with the number of hours authorized, you have the right to appeal by requesting a State Hearing. The back of the Notice of Action has information about how to appeal.

Are there limitations on the number of hours provided per task?

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Yes. For example, your care provider cannot spend more than 6 hours per month on domestic services or more than 1 hour per week shopping for food. If you can show that you need more time for a specific service, your county IHSS social worker will see if additional hours can be authorized to meet your needs.

Are there medical eligibility requirements for IHSS?

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People with disabilities must meet Social Security's medical eligibility criteria to qualify for IHSS.

Can I use IHSS hours in the workplace?

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Yes. You can use IHSS hours to help you get, keep, or return to work. To do this, you need to transfer hours that were for in-home services to the workplace. IHSS will not give you more hours than you originally were getting before you started using IHSS in the workplace.

To transfer hours to the workplace, contact your IHSS caseworker and say which services you need and the number of hours you wish to transfer.

I'm in college. Can I use IHSS hours to help me with my courses?

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No. You cannot use IHSS hours to help you with college courses or vocational training.

I live in an assisted living facility. Can I use IHSS there?

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No. If you live in a nursing home or other assisted living facility, you do not qualify for IHSS. If you plan to live in your own home in the future, you can apply for IHSS while you are in the facility. An IHSS social worker can complete a preliminary needs assessment while you are still residing at the facility. Once you move out of the facility and into your own home, the IHSS social worker will complete another assessment in your home.

Who hires and supervises my caregiver?

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You, the recipient of In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), are responsible for hiring, firing, and supervising your caregiver.

Can I own my own home and qualify for IHSS services?

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Yes. Your personal property cannot exceed $2,000 to qualify for IHSS. This does not, however, include the home you live in, one car to get to and from medical appointments, and life insurance with a combined face value of less than $1,500.

Can I hire family members to provide my IHSS?

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Yes. You can hire relatives, friends, neighbors, and other caregivers to provide you with IHSS.