How to Apply for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS)
Submitting the initial IHSS application involves three main components. First, find your local IHSS office. Second, submit the application and all relevant paperwork. Third, confirm with IHSS that all documentation has been received. The 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. If you don't know the contact information for your county's office, there is a complete list of IHSS offices 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. Confirm with your local IHSS office your options for submitting this application by mail, phone, or fax. If you are in Los Angeles County, see this site to find submission information.
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.
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. To learn more about applying for IHSS for a child under five years old, check out the recording of this information session with our Public Benefits Specialist.
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.
See our guide to the home visit for tips and information about preparing for your in-home meeting with the caseworker.
What if you are denied IHSS?
Confirm that IHSS received your paperwork
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.