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

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

Published: Jun. 28, 2021Updated: Oct. 13, 2023

Featured image

Tips for applying for IHSS infographic

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.

Before you get started, check out this advice from our Public Benefits Specialist, Lisa Concoff Kronbeck, about what to keep in mind:

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.

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 case worker.

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?

Lisa Concoff Kronbeck explains what to do if you are denied IHSS in this clip:

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. If you're not already a member, join our private Facebook group Team Undivided for Parents to ask questions and get advice from other parents who've been there.



Find your local IHSS office

Submit the application and all relevant paperwork

What if you are denied IHSS?

Confirm that IHSS received your paperwork

Connect with other families

Join the Undivided Community to get more resources like this in your inbox



Undivided Editorial TeamStaff

Reviewed by

Undivided Editorial Team,


Lisa Concoff Kronbeck, Undivided Public Benefits Specialist
Lisa Concoff Kronbeck, Undivided Public Benfits Specialist

Promise Image
Each piece of content has been rigorously researched, edited, and vetted to bring you the latest and most up-to-date information. Learn more about our content and research process here.
A Navigator is your Partner at each turn
Every Undivided Navigator has years of experience supporting families raising kids with disabilities or parenting their own. Partner with an Undivided Navigator for a free Kickstart to learn first hand what support feels like!
Expert-driven content, guidance, and solutions.
Member events and office hours with real answers, plus access to our private parents' group.
Priority to begin a free Kickstart of the Undivided Support System with a dedicated Navigator.
“It’s so helpful to have one place that you can go to get many answers.”–Leeza Woodbury, with Navigator Kelly since 2020
*Currently offering Navigator Kickstarts to residents of California