call us 888.323.2133

Call us at 888.323.2133

Your IHSS Application: Getting a Letter from Your Child’s Doctor

ihss doctorCalifornia’s In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS) provides a helpful program to get financial support every month for parents of children with special needs such as autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy or another disability. Especially for those of you who have had to stop working in order to take care of your child, disability benefits such as IHSS and Protective Supervision allow you to be employed as your child’s in-home caretaker. One of the most important documents to include in your IHSS application is the letter from your child’s doctor stating his or her diagnosis. But how do you get your child’s doctor to write a great letter for your IHSS application?

The following tips will help you get the documentation you need to complete your application to IHSS:

Talk to your child’s doctor about IHSS

Before you ask for a letter, it’s a great idea to find out if your child’s doctor supports your IHSS application. Some doctors have a policy that states they don’t fill out paperwork for IHSS or disability benefits. If your child’s doctor has said this to you, do not give up hope! There are many things you can do that may help you still get a good letter.

Try more than one doctor

If you have seen only one doctor, try asking others! You never know who will write a great letter. Ask your community for references to great doctors in your area. It also looks good when multiple doctors have a similar viewpoint on your child’s functioning, so if you were able to get letters from multiple doctors, that can be a great help. I

See the right kind of doctor

IHSS has specific rules about who should sign letters and forms. If your doctor is not an MD, learn more about the acceptable medical source rules.

Make it easy for your child’s doctor

Your child’s doctor isn’t going to want to spend 10 hours collecting and combing through every medical record your child ever had. And you are not going to want your child’s doctor to write a letter that leaves really important things out! Some of our readers reported that their doctors were grateful and did a better job when they brought a list of documents such as any medical tests your child has had, an overview of your child’s medical history, and even sample letters that your doctor can use.

What your letter should contain

Many doctors know a lot about treatment but know very little about IHSS policy and what information needs to be included in a letter. Your ideal letter will also include these things:

  • Basic Medical Information – Information on your diagnosis, symptoms, treatment and medical history. Most doctors will include this automatically.
  • Information on Functioning – Your doctor’s medical opinion about how long and how well your child can to walk, sit, stand, bend, and other functioning activities. Functioning may also include your child’s ability to focus, concentrate and remember.
  • Objective Medical Evidence – Ideally, your letter will reference one or more abnormal results on a lab test, assessment test by a specialist, or a medical sign your doctor finds while examining your child.
  • The Right Signature – Signed by an MD or another kind of acceptable medical source. For mental health, signed by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist.

If you are overwhelmed and you feel you need help, you can always reach out to 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 (888) 323-2133 or email us at [email protected]