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The Best Way to Apply for In-Home Support Services (IHSS)

If you raising a child with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, or another disability, you may qualify for financial help with In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS). IHSS is a California program provided by the government that offers financial support for in-home caretakers of children with developmental disabilities. While a variety of benefits are available, the most important for families of children with special needs is “Protective Supervision.”

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Have You Heard About In-Home Support Services (IHSS)?

IHSS can be an enormous benefit to parents who are raising children with disabilities like autism, Down syndrome or cerebral palsy. For qualified families, the state of California pays an individual caregiver (a parent) to stay home and care for a developmentally disabled child. Not only does this ease the constant worrying about money, these benefits can help pay for therapies and other treatments, or simply daily expenses that become difficult if you have to take time off or you are unable to work completely. Continue reading “Have You Heard About In-Home Support Services (IHSS)?”

HELP! My IHSS Protective Supervision Hours Were Cut.

California State’s In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS) provides an amazing program for financial support to enable you to stay at home with your child with a disability and keep her or him safe and happy. Children with special needs such as autism, Down syndrome, or cerebral palsy can often take a heavy financial toll on a family. It is common for you to have to stop working in order to take care of your child. But disability benefits such as In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) and Protective Supervision allow you to be employed as your child’s in-home caretaker.

But what if your hours have been cut and you’re not receiving the amount of money needed to be able to stay home with your child with special needs?

Continue reading “HELP! My IHSS Protective Supervision Hours Were Cut.”

How to Appeal Your IHSS Denial

If you have applied for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), you probably know that for many, getting approved on your first try is a challenge. You now face a low amount of hours, or a complete denial for services. The odds were against you if you did not sufficiently prove your child’s disability. If you now have, or fear that you will have a denial letter in your hand, here’s a step-by-step approach to help you in appealing and winning your case.

Protective Supervision, part of the IHSS program, can be of great value for children with special needs like autism or Down syndrome, who need to be observed 24 hours per day to protect them from injuries, hazards, or accidents. You’ve had to cut your hours or you can’t work at all because you have to stay home. It makes receiving a denial even more stressful.

If you have been denied benefits, you can appeal this decision. An appeal system known as a due process hearing is an excellent tool for parents who have been denied benefits for their disabled children. This process provides you with another chance to prove that your family qualifies for financial assistance.

But the process for challenging a denial can be daunting because there are timelines and a hearing involved. The matter can also involve the courts.

Here is what you need to do:

1. If you are already receiving IHSS services, file the request for appeal during the 10 calendar days BEFORE the Notice of Action is effective. The benefits will not change until there is a hearing and a decision is issued.

A request for hearing MUST be filed within 90 calendar days after the date of the county action or inaction. A written request for a rehearing must be filed within 30 calendar days of receipt after the decision is received. A request for a state hearing may be written or oral and there is a request form on the back of the Notice of Action. The request for a state hearing should include: the aid program involved (i.e., IHSS), the reason for the disagreement with the county action, if an interpreter is needed and what kind, and a copy of the applicable Notice of Action.

2. The IHSS denial challenge process always involves witnesses and evidence. Gather information about how the County IHSS worker determined the hours you were authorized.

Ask your worker for a copy of the latest needs assessment forms. These county forms will include notes about why hours were or were not authorized. Also ask for a copy of the most recent SOC 293 form. The SOC 293 forms include information on the functional ranking about what you can and cannot do. If you are challenging a reduction, ask for copies of both your new and your old county assessment forms and your new and old SOC 293 forms.

3. Ask for a copy of the sheets in your file where notes were made about contacts and visits with you over the last year. Ask your IHSS worker for a copy of the County’s time-for-task guidelines. Remember, time-for-task guidelines may not be used for personal care tasks. Ask your worker for copies of any doctor or medical reports in your file and for copies of any paramedical forms.

4. After you file an appeal, you will receive from the state information about your hearing rights and telling you the address and phone number of the County appeals worker, the person who will represent the County at the hearing. Your IHSS file is in that office.

Many appeals workers try to resolve a dispute without a hearing. The appeals workers are often more experienced and knowledgeable than the people you’ve dealt with in the local office. The appeals worker may call you about a “conditional withdrawal” so that a new assessment can be done. If you agree to a conditional withdrawal of your appeal, you have a right to have the hearing rescheduled if you disagree with the new assessment or a decision not to authorize retroactive benefits.

5. You are entitled to the County’s statement of position two business days before the hearing. If your hearing is on Friday, you are entitled to the position statement Wednesday morning. (You are entitled to look at your file at any time whether or not you have a hearing pending.)

The County’s statement of position will help you identify other evidence and witnesses you may need. If you do not get a copy until just before the hearing, you can ask to have the record left open to submit additional evidence (such as letters or statements) to respond to any statement in the County’s position paper. Even if you get the County’s statement of position in time, you may still ask to have the hearing record left open so that you may submit additional evidence.

6. During the hearing, the County goes first and says why your hours were cut or why you should not have the additional hours you believe are needed.

The hearing will involve the presentation of evidence (testimony by witnesses, letters, diary log, medical reports) about your needs in the service category areas where you and the county disagree. The evidence should explain what you need, how long it takes to provide the service, the reason you need more time than that set out in the assessment or the County guidelines, and what risks you may be exposed to if you do not receive the level of services requested. IHSS fair hearings are informal. The important thing is to explain why more time is needed. The best evidence is from the people who provide you care and who kept a diary record of the time it takes.

Witnesses may include — in addition to the IHSS recipient — past and present IHSS providers, regional center counselor, friends and family, etc. For each witness, list the points you want that witness to make and cross off each point as it is made.

If this process sounds daunting and you feel you need help, you can always reach out to us. Our advocates can lead you through everything, as well as provide resources to better assist you and your special needs child.

American Disability Association is dedicated to the wellbeing and protection of children with disabilities and actively provides support to enhance their quality of life. Whether you are dealing with federal or state benefits or struggling with a school district to get proper education for your child, we have the resources to help you. Many individuals and families managing a disability are not aware of the wide array of services available to them, or they do not know how to apply for these benefits in a way that is likely to succeed.

Contact us for help. Dial (877) 283-4807 or email us at info@americandisabilityassociation.org.

Helping Your Family Understand Your Child with Autism

Do you have one of those crazy big families, you know the kind where anyone silly enough to volunteer their house for Christmas has to set up three extra tables? There’s a lot of people, and you all love, support and respect each other. But when you need to discuss the challenges you have with your child with autism, they just don’t understand. Why? Aren’t they interested in knowing how to build a relationship with your kid? Don’t they get how big a deal autism is?

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Does My Child Have Autism? Know the Signs

As a parent, you never want to believe that your child might have a disability. But when it comes to autism, catching it early makes a huge difference. However you feel about it, there’s no question that the stage between questioning whether your child is autistic and getting a diagnosis is a big one.

Autism is a spectrum of closely-related disorders that share common symptoms. It is a lifelong developmental disability which affects the way a person communicates and how they experience the world around them. Autism affects everybody differently, and people with autism, just like people everywhere, have all sorts of individual personalities, sensitivities, preferences, and viewpoints. No one child is likely to display every symptom of autism exactly as the model says. However, there are some general areas to watch out for: 

General Signs of Autism

  • Learning little or no language at all
  • Echolalia: repeating particular sounds, words or phrases simply for the satisfaction of saying them over and over
  • Not using common non-verbal ways of communicating, such as shaking the head or pointing
  • Limited eye contact
  • Not responding to efforts to engage them
  • Being solitary, preferring to play alone
  • Having trouble grasping basic forms of manners, like saying ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’
  • Difficulty grasping the idea of taking turns
  • Engaging in repetitive behaviors for comfort or relaxation
  • Having unusual preferences about touching – for instance, being comforted by hard squeezes but agitated by gentle contact
  • Being highly stimulated by certain visual experiences like fans and wheels, or bright and flashing lights
  • Finding certain noises unbearable
  • Having easily irritated skin
  • Delayed motor skills
  • Being late to develop ‘toileting’ skills

You are in the best position to spot the earliest warning signs of autism. You know your child better than anyone. Your child’s pediatrician can be a valuable partner, but don’t discount the importance of your own observations and experience. The key is to educate yourself so you know what’s normal and what’s not.

If you feel overwhelmed and you need help, please contact us.

American Disability Association is dedicated to the wellbeing and protection of children with disabilities and actively provides support to enhance their quality of life. Whether you are dealing with federal or state benefits or struggling with a school district to get proper education for your child, we have the resources to help you. Many individuals and families managing a disability are not aware of the wide array of services available to them, or they do not know how to apply for these benefits in a way that is likely to succeed.

Contact us for help. Dial (877) 283-4807 or email us at info@americandisabilityassociation.org.