California Special Needs & Disability Advocacy FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Q – What is an Advocate?

A – An advocate is someone who comes along side and champions those in need. Advocates are well versed in legal regulations and utilize this knowledge for another’s benefit when dealing with State and Federal agencies. They are not required to be attorneys or judges. They are not state workers. Advocates work for their clients, to guide them through federal and state regulations, while providing valuable expertise.

Q – When do I need the support of an advocate?

A –  You need an advocate when dealing with any matter where lack of expertise can affect the loss of benefits. Whether you are filling out complicated paperwork, trying to understand if you are receiving the correct benefit amount, or going into court, an advocate lends their knowledge of legal matters to assist you. State and Federal agencies allow for representation in matters of administrative proceedings by non attorney representatives.You can represent yourself. However, few people can understand the breadth of the regulations to effectively represent themselves. Because of this, your chances of a favorable outcome are much greater with and advocate representative.  An attorney is another option, but it can be very expensive to retain an attorney.  An advocate blends legal expertise and affordability.

Q – What is Protective Supervision?

A – Protective supervision is an IHSS service for people who, due to a mental impairment or mental illness, need to be overseen 24 hours a day to protect them from injuries, hazards or accidents. It is rarely offered when IHSS evaluates and must be requested specifically. Most times the service is denied and must be won in a fair hearing before a judge.

Q – What is an IEP?

A – An IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) is a binding legal document developed in accordance with certain rules and regulations by a team that should be equally represented by the parents, teachers/therapists and district representatives of a student who was determined to have special needs. It is used to develop the child educationally and to define the child’s schooling needs and goals.

Q – My family member was just diagnosed with a physical disability. Where do we go from here?

A – Your doctors office is always a good place to start. They often know of resources in your area. Please give us a call and we would be happy to be of assistance. Our founder raised several children with physical disabilities and has a great deal of experience and resource information. Also, please see our resource page for more assistance.

Q – My family member was just diagnosed with a cognitive disability. Where do we go from here?

A – Your doctors office is always a good place to start. They often know of resources in your area. Please give us a call and we would be happy to be of assistance. Our founder raised three children with down syndrome and has a heart for families facing the special challenges that go with cognitive disabilities. Also, please see our resource page for more assistance.

Q – Do I need to live in northern California to utilize Galt Advocacy’s services?

A – Galt Advocacy can assist anyone in California and depending on the service needed, even in other states.

Q – Does Galt Advocacy handle cases outside of California?

A – We have handled cases outside of California.  Most assistance programs are based on Federal regulations or Federal programs. Because of this, we may be able to assist you regardless of the state you live in. Some limitations may be travel, communication and distance.

Q – How old does my child need to be, to be eligible for services in California?

A – There is no set age for most of these programs.

Q – Can adults receive IHSS?

A – Yes. The IHSS program was initially created for the aged and adult population and was later expanded to assist special needs children as well.

Q – Will the Payments A Parent Receives for Providing IHSS Affect the Child’s SSI or the Family’s Medi-Cal?

A – In most cases, no. IHSS payments will not affect a child’s Medi-Cal because this is considered exempt income under Medi-Cal rules. When IHSS rules changed to allow Medi-Cal funding for parent providers under the IPW, these payments became income and property exempt under all of the State’s Medi-Cal programs for IHSS provided to children under 21. (ACWDL 05-29, 06-04, 06-19). However, receiving these payments still may affect the family’s welfare.

Payments will not affect a child’s grant of SSI because this is considered exempt income under SSI rules. POMS SI 01320.175.

CAUTION: Retroactive IHSS payments are considered exempt INCOME the same as monthly IHSS. However they are only exempt as a RESOURCE for 1 month. The month following the 1 month exemption, any remaining funds will be deemed a resource for an eligible child potentially lowering the monthly amount of SSI received.  This is for retroactive IHSS payments only.  POMS SI 01120.112

Q – What if I move to a new county in California?

A – When you move between counties you must let your SW know. She will transfer your client file to the other (receiving) county. You will be contacted by the receiving county to schedule a reassessment. The SW will attend the home assessment and you will be issued a new Notice of Action with a new number of hours as determined by the receiving county. Until this Notice of Action is issued, you will continue to receive the same hours you were receiving in your previous county.

Q – Will I get to keep my Protective Supervision if I move to a new county?

A – Not necessarily. Though the new county is mandated by law to show a reason that your protective supervision hours are no longer needed, it is not uncommon for a receiving county to try to do this. Some counties are more likely to try this than others. It would be advisable for you to talk to your Galt Advocacy Representative before making a decision to move to a new county as we will be able to advise you what you might do in order to protect your PS hours before moving.

Q – What if I move out of California? Can I still get IHSS hours?

A –The IHSS program in California is specific to California. Each state will have its own program. California IHSS hours will end when you move out of state.

Q – Can an IHSS recipient travel out of country or out of the state on vacation or a trip with my recipient to provide care?

A –IF the recipient is going to be taken outside the County, the State, or the Country and receives IHSS hours, AND the recipient states the intent to return to to their home county within the regulatory period, (which is 30 days)

THEN The social worker is supposed to ask :

      1. Will the provider be traveling with the Recipient?
      2. Destination?
      3. Departure and Return Dates?
      4. Contact info for where the recipient will be (address/phone number) outside the County?
      5. Reason for Travel? (medical/vacation/etc)

Then IF the Provider and Recipient will be traveling TOGETHER, up to 30 days, they are eligible for IHSS hours.

HOWEVER IF the Provider is NOT traveling with the recipient the social worker will put the Provider’s hours as “ON LEAVE” but the Recipient will still be eligible for hours upon their return up to 30 days.

After 30 days, the situation changes due to SSI/Medi-Cal regulations and there are steps that the social worker will take which may result in the ending of SSI/Medi-Cal etc, and therefore the ending of IHSS.

Based on Regulations: MPP 30-770.42 THROUGH 30-770.471

Q – I am receiving more than 283 hours with multiple recipients. Am I eligible for Exemption 2: Extraordinary Circumstances Exemption to report up to 360 hours?

A – This exemption is granted by the county for complex cases where only a live-in provider is possible, live rurally, or have language limitations. Please read the explanation published by Disability Rights.  It gives a good explanation. 

The exemption is not subject to the state hearing process so it’s generally up to the county to give it or not. There is an appeal but this appeal process is not successful for most and consists of a phone call with an analyst to make sure the county denied for a valid reason. So it is very much in the hands of the county. Information can be found here.

If you have 2 or more recipients and the needs are complex this exemption may fit your situation. If you feel your situation meets this criteria, you contact your SW so they can evaluate. They will have you fill in the SOC 2305 form and submit it.

You will need to be prepared to answer the questions on the following forms (SOC 2306 and SOC 2307) when the county calls you to interview you about the exemption. To receive the exemption it is best that you have previously tried to work with or hire other providers. To assist you with answering these questions, you can follow the Exemption 2 Eligibility Determination Tool.

Q – If I live with my recipient are my IHSS payments tax free?

A – We are not tax professionals and people should contact their tax preparer or professional for professional advice. But we will try to help below!

If you live with the recipient of IHSS, the income a provider receives is not taxed by state and federal. Here is the IRS determination:

As a Live-In Provider you can send in the SOC 2298 and the state will cease to remove taxes from your bi-weekly checks. See here for the Live-In provider info from the state and link to the SOC 2298 form:


You should alternatively be entering your live-in provider status online from your provider account on the ESP(timesheets) website.

This won’t necessarily deal with all tax issues in regard to your tax returns.

If you receive a W2 from the state for IHSS payments you have received, you need to report that W2 on your taxes

If you do not then here is a possible scenario:

    • You make $50,000 in IHSS income.
    • At the end of the year you are sent a W2 showing $50,000
    • Because the income is exempt you do not report it as income on your tax return.
    • IRS looks at the $50,000 and sees you did not pay any taxes on it, then looks at your tax return and the $50,000 is not mentioned anywhere. 
    • The IRS then thinks you have failed to report income on your taxes and fines you

If you did not address the issue of the W2 received you can address this issue by filing an amended return for the years the IRS thinks you received income that is taxable and inform them the income is exempt. You report IHSS as income but also report it as exempt income on the 1040. You do this by adding the income and then entering it as a negative amount both so it offsets on your return. Most tax programs have a way of doing this. It may be listed as IRS Notice 2014-7 , Medicaid waiver payments, or as Foster Care payments to Providers (IRS stated they treat these the same as foster care payments) You can do this on your current return or on an amended return. If taxes were taken out of your checks, mistakenly, you receive those funds as a REFUND. See below for instructions from the IRS.

However, we suggest people speak to HR Block or some other tax preparer for the correct way of reporting the income as exempt.

Here is a Q & A from the IRS that answers many questions for people.

Q10. If I received payments described in Notice 2014-7 in an earlier year, may I file an amended return to exclude the payments from gross income that I reported as income in the earlier year?

A10. Yes. You may file a Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, if you received payments described in the notice in an earlier year and the time for claiming a credit or refund has not expired under § 6511 of the Internal Revenue Code. A taxpayer generally may file a claim for refund within three years from the date the return was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. For more information, see “When To File” in the instructions to Form 1040-X or Tax Topic 308, Amended Returns, available at /taxtopics/tc308.html. In Part III of Form 1040-X, you should explain that the payments are excludable under Notice 2014-7. Excluding payments described in the notice in an earlier year may affect deductions or credits that you claimed for the earlier year, as well as other tax items for the earlier year. To help expedite the processing of your amended return, you should include the following to substantiate your claim: (1) the full name of the individual receiving care (and the care recipient’s social security number or other taxpayer identifying number, if available); (2) copies of documents from third parties to show that you and the individual receiving care resided in the same home in the year to which the claim relates (such as a driver’s license or other government-issued document, social agency document, bank statement, medical bill, or utility bill); and (3) evidence that the individual is receiving care under a state Medicaid waiver program. 

Q11. I received wage payments that are excludable from gross income under Notice 2014-7. However, the agency that pays me treats me as an employee and continued to withhold federal income tax on the payments and reported the payments as wages in box 1 of Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. How should I report to the Service that the payments are excludable from gross income?

A11. You should include the full amount of the payments reported in box 1 of Form W-2 as wages on line 1 of Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR. You should then subtract the excludable portion of the amount in box 1 on Schedule 1, line 8, “Other income,” of Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR. If you have other income reportable on Schedule 1, line 8, you should enter the net amount after subtracting the amount excludable from gross income under Notice 2014-7 from the other amounts reportable on Schedule 1, line 8. You may need to enter a negative amount on Schedule 1, line 8, if you have no other income reportable on Schedule 1, line 8, or if the amount of other income you must report on Schedule 1, line 8 is less than the amount excludable from gross income. You should write “Notice 2014-7” on the dotted line for Schedule 1, line 8,  if you file a paper return, or enter “Notice 2014-7” on Schedule 1, line 8 for an electronically filed return.

Q – How do I enroll as a provider?

A Steps in order to enroll as a provider

An IHSS provider is someone who gets paid to provide services to a person who receives In-Home Supportive Services under the IHSS program. If you want to become an IHSS provider, you must complete all of the steps outlined below within 90 days from the date you began the process before you can be enrolled as a provider and receive payment from the IHSS program for providing services. These steps do not need to be completed in any particular order. If you believe you have a criminal arrest and/or conviction within the previous ten (10) years, no matter how minor, you should begin the process with STEP 2 because you only have 90 days to complete all of the steps and it may take longer for the California Department of Justice (DOJ) to review your criminal history and provide the County with your Criminal Offender Record Information.

STEP 1. Complete and sign the IHSS Program Provider Enrollment Form (SOC 426) and return it in person to the County IHSS Office or IHSS Public Authority.

• Get a blank copy of the SOC 426 from the County IHSS Office or Public Authority. Read the information carefully before you complete the form.

• Complete the SOC 426 form and answer all questions completely and truthfully. You must report if you have been convicted of any crimes that would not allow you to provide services.

• Bring a valid photo ID issued by a U.S. federal or state government agency or by a federally recognized Native American or Alaskan Native tribal organization AND an original Social Security card or replacement card issued by the Social Security Administration.

• The information you provide on the SOC 426 will be verified by a criminal background check by the DOJ.

STEP 2. Be fingerprinted and go through a criminal background check by the California Department of Justice.

• The County IHSS Office or Public Authority will give you instructions on how to get fingerprinted. Do not try to be fingerprinted until you have received instructions from the county.

• You can get fingerprinted at some local law enforcement agencies (Police or Sheriff Department) or at a business that offers digitally scanned fingerprinting (Live Scan) services. The County IHSS Office or Public Authority can give you a list of nearby locations.

• State law requires that you pay the costs for fingerprinting and the criminal background check. Fees vary depending where you choose to get fingerprinted; the costs range from $40 to $90.

STEP 3. Attend an IHSS Program Provider Orientation given by the county.

• The County IHSS Office or Public Authority will tell you when and where you can attend an orientation session.

• The orientation will give you important information about the IHSS Program and the rules and requirements you must follow as a provider.

STEP 4: At the end of the Provider Orientation session, sign an IHSS Program Provider Enrollment Agreement form (SOC 846)

• By signing the SOC 846, you are saying that you understand and agree to the rules and requirements for being a provider in the IHSS Program. You should maintain copies of all documents you submitted and any that you have received from the county for your records.

Once you have successfully completed these four (4) steps and have been approved by the county or Public Authority to be an IHSS provider, as long as you are an active provider and your criminal background check remains clear, you will continue to be eligible to provide services for any IHSS recipient. If you do not complete these four (4) steps within 90 days after you began the provider enrollment process, you will be found ineligible to work and be paid as an IHSS provider and will need to begin the process over again in order to be enrolled as an IHSS provider. If you have any questions about these provider enrollment requirements, contact your County IHSS Office or IHSS Public Authority.

CDSS Website
Link to All Counties Public Authority|
Link to live-scan locations

Alameda County
Main link for County Site to IHSS provider enrollment for Alameda

Contra Costa County
Main Link for County site to IHSS provider enrollment for CCC

Fresno County
Main Link for County site to IHSS provider enrollment for Fresno County

Lake County
Main Link for County site to IHSS provider enrollment for Lake County

Los Angeles
Main Link for County site to IHSS provider enrollment for LA County

Main Link for County site to IHSS provider enrollment for Marin County

Main Mendocino Link

To enroll as a provider for Monterey County

To enroll, go here

Main Link for County site to IHSS provider enrollment for Orange County

Main Link for County site to IHSS provider enrollment for Riverside


Main Link for County site to IHSS provider enrollment for Sacramento
How to Become A Provider 

San Bernardino
Main Link for County site to IHSS provider enrollment for San Bernardino

• In order to enroll, Please call San Bernardino IHSS Public Authority at: 1-866-985-6322.

San Diego
Main Link for County site to IHSS provider enrollment for San Diego

• Call the Provider Enrollment Department at (866) 351-7722 to request an Enrollment packet or click the enrollment link

San Francisco
Main Link for County site to IHSS provider enrollment for San Francisco

San Joaquin
Main Link for County site to IHSS provider enrollment for San Joaquin

Santa Clara
Main Link for County site to IHSS provider enrollment for Santa Clara

Santa Cruz
Main Link for County site to IHSS provider enrollment for Santa Cruz

Main Link for County site to IHSS provider enrollment for Solano

Main Link for County site to IHSS provider enrollment for Sonoma