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What Documentation Do I Need When I Apply for IHSS?

What Documentation Do I Need When I Apply for IHSS?

In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) is a program in California that provides payment to you as the caregiver for your child with special needs.

It can help you financially so you can stay home and take care of your child who has a disability like autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, or epilepsy. You can now go to all the doctor appointments and therapies and personally supervise the services and monitor what your child receives without worrying about scheduling time off from work or taking a day without pay.

But applying for IHSS is not easy. You must offer sufficient paperwork that proves your child needs a caregiver with him all the time. This means you have to give specific details of your child’s special requirements so that others who review the case will be able to understand the need for services and hours authorized.

These details should always identify your child’s functional impairments and the risk they pose to your child, and they should spell out how In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) will reduce the risk. In addition, you must remove all sentences that are only your opinion or the opinion of someone else; instead, simply report observed behaviors and environmental conditions.

Here are a few examples that reflect two different ways to document Functional Index (FI) ranking and/or hours authorized. The “improved” examples are often abbreviated versions of appropriate documentation. Documentation should always include information about the FI ranking and the hours authorized:

Do Not Say: My child needs total care.

Say: My child has cerebral palsy and she needs assistance with basic daily living activities. She requires help with all ADLs and IADLs because she lacks the physical strength and endurance to perform any domestic and related services or personal care, including:

  • Personal Hygiene: bathing, grooming and oral care
  • Dressing: gross motor skills like lifting a leg up to put on pants and fine motor skills in order to undo a zipper
  • Eating: feeding herself
  • Maintaining Continence: the ability to use a restroom
  • Transferring: seated to standing and getting in and out of bed

Do Not Say: My child needs Protective Supervision.

Say: According to the physician’s evaluation on a SOC 821, my child has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and he has a history of running off from adults at school or in the community, leaving the classroom without permission, and leaving the house when the family is not looking. He is non-verbal, so he cannot ask for help, and multiple time he has been found wandering in the street, unable to recognize danger such as cars driving by.

Along with your own detailed documentation, you should also provide the physician’s evaluation that demonstrate elements of your child’s behavior and cognitive limitations that could assist the social worker in concluding that Protective Supervision is warranted. This includes additional information that should be gathered about current behavior that your child exhibits that places her at risk for injury, hazard, or accident that others involved in the care of your child such as involved family members, the Regional Center, Mental Health, Day Care Centers, schools, etc. are aware of.

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

American Advocacy Group is on the front lines every day, making positive change happen for people diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome and a range of diagnoses across the continuum. As a leading advocate for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and the premier provider of the support and services people want and need, we understand the system and know how to take action in regard to your best interests.


Dial (877) 762-0702 or email us at [email protected].


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