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Social Security Disability Guidelines for Home Attendants

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Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, guidelines for home attendants vary, depending on the program you are enrolled in. The home attendant has many definitions, but the overreaching concept is that the home attendant provides needed services for people in their home, which may include preparing to go to work. Home attendants may be employed directly or by an agency.

Are Home Care Attendants an Allowable Expense?

SSDI pays benefits to you if you have paid Social Security taxes. To qualify, you must have a disability as defined by SSDI, which prevents substantial gainful employment. To determine if you had substantial gainful employment, it reviews how much income you had that month. When your income is greater than the limitation, you cannot receive services from SSDI unless you have qualifying expenses.

These qualifying expenses are deducted from your gross pay and the new number is used to make the eligibility determination. Qualifying expenses include those that are due to your disability. Home care attendants help the person with a disability but their pay may or may not be an allowable expense for deduction. The SSDI guideline requires the home care attendant assist you in preparing for work or getting to and from work, and without her assistance, you would not be able to work. These stipulations are found in SSR-84-26.

Requirements for Home Care Attendants

The Social Security Administration does not have certification criteria or licensing regulations in place for home care attendants. The individual receiving the services or the employing agency can set their own criteria for their employees. However, for SSDI guidelines, the home care attendant cannot live in the household or be related by blood to the recipient of services.

Who Pays for Home Care Attendants?

Home care attendants can be employed directly by the person whom they are assisting or they may be employed by an agency. In either case, the employer will pay the attendant in money form. In other words, according the SSDI guidelines, the attendant cannot be paid "in-kind." In-kind is another term for trading services such as an attendant assisting the person in exchange for room and board. This is legal but it will not be considered a true home attendant service recognized by the Social Security Administration.

Medicaid and Medicare are two programs that will help provide funding for a home attendant to assist a qualified person with a disability. If the person with a disability requires assistance with his daily routines, then he may be eligible for the service under one of these programs. The SSDI guidelines oversee the determination process. In this case the home care attendant can provide personal services to the person instead of only job-related services.

In addition to need, income also will be a factor in determining eligibility. Because this program is paying for the attendant for you, the attendant pay would not be a qualifying expense because that service will not be paid by you.


Jennifer Terry is program director for TriCounty Agency for Intellectual Disabilities. As a University of Alabama graduate, she holds a Masters in rehabilitation counseling and a Bachelor in psychology with an emphasis in child development. She also earned an Associate in business management and second Associate in computer information systems from Bevill State Community College. She holds a grant writing certificate from North Georgia College and State University.

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