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While there are many different types of housing for seniors, many still prefer to stay in their homes for as long as they can. But, for some, that can’t happen unless there is help in the home.

Many seniors need help making meals, taking medication, and with personal hygiene. In the state of California there is a program that can help seniors with these types of tasks. For those who qualify, there is the In-Home Supportive Services Program (IHSS).

What is the In-House Supportive Services Program?

This program helps to pay for services so that seniors can stay in their homes. The types of services provided include:

  • Housecleaning & laundry services
  • Meal preparation
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Personal Care Services
  • Accompaniment to Medical Appointments
  • Aid with personal care services at a disabled person’s workplace, but not with work-related tasks

In order to be considered for the program you must be a California resident that is either age 65 or older, blind, or disabled. You must also have a Medi-Cal eligibility determination and complete a Health Care Certification form. It’s important to note that IHSS does not provide 24-hour care. If this is something you need, you will need to find another type of program.

What is the Eligibility Process?

If you or a loved one can benefit from the IHSS program, the first step is to have a county social worker come into the home for an interview. During the interview the person who may receive the benefits will be asked what tasks they can safely do on their own and which ones require help.

From there the social worker will determine what services the person qualifies for and for how many hours a week. The social worker will submit his or her findings along with a completed Health Care Certification form to the Department of Social Services which will determine eligibility.

If you are approved, you will learn how many hours a month are covered and at what pay-rate. It is then up to you or your family members to hire the people who will provide the services. It is your responsibility to train them, hire them, and fire them if need be. The providers will be paid by the state of California.

Do I Need to Pay Anything Out-of-Pocket for IHSS?

There are some cases where you may have to pay out-of-pocket for part of the expense. That determination is made based upon your Social Security benefits. If they are above a certain dollar amount you may be forced to pay a portion of the IHSS benefits. The following people typically have to pay a portion for IHSS:

  • People who receive Social Security Disability Insurance and do not work at all, if their benefits are high enough to put their countable income above the Social Security monthly benefits rate.
  • Although most veterans do not have a share of cost, those who get veterans benefits or other unearned income and do not work at all and whose unearned benefits are high enough to put their countable income above the SSI monthly benefits rate may have to pay.
  • People who get Social Security or other retirement benefits and do not work at all, if their retirement benefits are high enough to put their countable income above the Social Security monthly benefits rate.

These are just some instances where people may have to pay. Each individual case is different. It’s best to see where you fall once you apply and are approved.

Other Important Facts About the IHSS Program

If you are considering applying for the IHSS program, it’s important to keep the following things in mind:

  • There are limitations put on the number of hours a provider can do a certain task.
  • You cannot use the IHSS program if you live in a nursing home or assisted living facility.
  • You can hire family members to carry out the duties provided by the IHSS program.
  • Depending on your eligibility you may receive as many as 283 hours of help from the IHSS program per month.
  • If you are in college, IHSS hours do not count towards vocational training or college courses.

The IHSS program is meant to help people who qualify remain in their homes with some help to do certain tasks. If someone needs more help than the IHSS program can provide there are other options, such as nursing homes and assisted living programs. This may be needed if 24-hour care is essential.

How Do I Apply?

To begin the process of eligibility for IHSS, complete an application and submit it to your county IHSS Office.

Written By

Jeff Hoyt

Editor in Chief

Since graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Statistics, Jeff has been creating content in print, online, and on television. Much of his work has been dedicated to informing seniors on how to live better lives. As Editor-in-Chief of the personal… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt

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