How to Apply for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS)

In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) provides and funds home-based personal care and related services so that people with disabilities of all ages can live safely in their home communities. IHSS is part of a broader network of Medi-Cal–funded services and supports. It’s important to know that — if eligible — a parent can be paid as their child’s IHSS provider. While applying for IHSS requires a little bit of patience and paperwork, we’ll walk you through each step of the process. (You can also learn more about the IHSS program here.)


Applying for IHSS is made up of three main steps:

  • First, find your local IHSS office.
  • Second, submit the application and all relevant paperwork.
  • Third, confirm with IHSS that all documentation has been received.

This last step is crucial, and will need to be repeated for each set of documents you submit throughout the application process.

Find your local IHSS office


You can apply for IHSS by phone or by submitting a paper application to your local IHSS office. A complete list of IHSS offices can be viewed on the CDSS website. For Los Angeles county, you can view your application options on the LA Department of Public Social Services IHSS website.


Submit the application and all relevant paperwork


Submitting the initial application for IHSS is a fairly straightforward process. The first step is to complete the SOC 295, the application for IHSS. There are three options for submitting this form:

  1. Print, complete, and mail to IHSS Application 2707 S. Grand Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90007
  2. Apply by phone. The toll-free number is (888) 944 – IHSS (4477). The local number is (213) 744 – IHSS (4477). You can also call the IHSS helpline at (888) 822-9622, option 2 from the main menu.
  3. Print and fax to (213) 947-4591.

Make a note of the date you submit the initial application, whether on paper or by phone. This is your protected date of eligibility, and if your child is found to be eligible, payments should be made retroactively to this date. This remains true if your application is delayed; for example, if paperwork is lost and you have to resubmit, or if you have to request a state hearing because your child was denied services. Once complete, submit the application via your preferred method.

The Health Care Certification Form, SOC 873, must be completed by your child’s doctor. The CDSS website says that the form must be submitted before hours can be approved, but in practice this form generally needs to be completed and submitted before IHSS will schedule your initial home visit with the caseworker.

Tip: It is impermissible to deny a recipient based solely on age without assessing their specific need for services, and there is no such thing as a “denial by telephone.” When a family tells us, “I tried to apply by phone, and the agent denied me,” what that really means is that the agent talked the family out of applying and thereby denied them the opportunity to appeal. If you call to apply and the agent tells you that they don’t provide services to young children because you have a parental responsibility to care for your child, politely let them know that you’d like to proceed with the application anyway. If they tell you that you will be denied because your child is too young, tell them that you’d like to submit the application and receive a formal denial in writing.

Tip: After you submit your initial application, you should receive a letter informing you that your child’s case has been assigned to a caseworker, who will conduct a home visit and collect all applicable paperwork. Make a note of that case worker’s phone number. The paper should also include the case worker’s direct chain of command (their supervisor and their supervisor’s supervisor). Note those phone numbers as well. If your caseworker doesn’t return calls within a reasonable amount of time (two to three business days), call the supervisor and they will instruct the caseworker to call you back.

Additional forms and documentation may be requested throughout the application process, particularly if you are seeking paramedical services or protective supervision. Typically, you will submit the forms and documentation for these services after your initial home visit. Additional paperwork should be faxed to the local office using the fax number provided to you. Those numbers can also be found on the LA DPSS IHSS site (scroll down to “How to Submit Requested Documents”).


Confirm that IHSS received your paperwork


The IHSS office usually will not let you know if required documentation is missing or lost; they will often simply issue a denial letter. To ensure a smooth application process, confirm that IHSS received all paperwork submitted on your child’s behalf, including documentation and forms submitted by medical providers. Have your child’s case number available whenever you call to confirm receipt of documents. Repeat this step every time you submit a new batch of documents.

Tip: Keep copies of everything you submit, along with the date you submitted the documents. You should also ask your doctor to provide you with a copy of any documents they send to IHSS, so you have a copy on hand should it need to be resubmitted.


Connect with other families


The period between your initial application and your home visit with the caseworker is a great time to connect with other families who receive IHSS to get support and feedback and hear about their experiences. Check out our Government Benefits group here!


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