Page Reviewed / Updated – May 6, 2024

Program Description

The Alaskans Living Independently (ALI) Medicaid Waiver is intended to help physically disabled seniors who are in need of a nursing facility level of care. Through this statewide waiver program, services are provided that allow program participants to continue living at home, such as care coordination, adult day care, and respite care. Modifications to the home to help promote independence — like wheelchair ramps and widening of the doorways, home delivered meals, and specialized medical equipment — are also covered benefits of this waiver.

It is not a requirement of the program that the participant remain living at home. They can reside in an assisted living community (more formally referred to as “residential supportive living”), but this may limit the range of services for which they are eligible. Program participants cannot reside in a nursing home.

This Medicaid waiver program is administered by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ (DHSS) Division of Senior and Disabilities Services (DSDS). To avoid confusion, it is worth mentioning that Medicaid in the state of Alaska is sometimes referred to as DenaliCare.

Eligibility Guidelines

Medicaid eligibility is complicated, and the requirements change based on individual criteria, such as age and marital status. What follows is accurate in 2024 for Alaskan residents who are age 65 or older and those between 21 and 64 years of age who are physically disabled as designated by Social Security. To be eligible for the Alaskans Living Independently Waiver, an individual must meet the following requirements.

General Requirements

Participants must require a nursing facility level of care. In other words, if not for the services provided by this waiver, it would be necessary for the individual to reside in a nursing home.

Financial Requirements

Income Limits

If single, an applicant must not have monthly income exceeding $2,829. This amount is equivalent to 300% of the SSI Federal Benefit Rate. If married, the Medicaid applicant is permitted up to $2,829 in monthly income, while up to $3,853.50 per month can be transferred to their non-applicant spouse, often referred to as the community spouse. (This is intended to bring the non-applicant’s monthly income up to $3,853.50. If the spouse’s income is already at this amount, the monthly transfer is not permitted.) This is called the Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMNA) and is intended to protect the spouse who is not seeking Medicaid services from becoming impoverished. Unlike with assets, Medicaid does not consider income jointly owned.

If married and both spouses are applying for services, the couple’s income cannot exceed $5,4658. (Each spouse is allowed up to $2,829 / month in income.) Again, this figure is calculated at 300% of the SSI Federal Benefit Rate.

Asset Limits

If single, an applicant must have countable assets valued at no more than $2,000. This excludes the value of one’s home, provided the applicant resides in the home and his / her equity interest does not exceed $713,000. Other assets that are exempt (not countable) include a vehicle, personal effects, a burial plot, and household items.

If married and the applicant’s spouse is not also seeking Medicaid, the applicant is permitted $2,000 and their spouse is permitted to retain up to $154,140 of their joint assets. This is called the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA). For married couples, all assets are considered jointly owned.

If married and both spouses are seeking Medicaid, the couple is able to retain up to $3,000 in assets.

Over the Financial Limits?

Families who exceed these limits can very likely still become Medicaid eligible. This applies to both families exceeding the income limits or the asset limits. There are many exceptions and workarounds that help families who require care to receive that care. It is strongly suggested that families in this situation contact a Medicaid planning professional prior to applying for the program. Learn more.  

Caution: Asset Transfers

Individuals cannot gift or sell their assets under market value in the preceding 60 months for the purpose of lowering their assets in order to gain Medicaid eligibility. This period of time is referred to as the Medicaid Look-Back Period, and violating this period may result in a period of Medicaid ineligibility.

Benefits and Services

  • Adult Day Care: Also referred to as “adult day services” or “adult day health”
  • Care Coordination
  • Respite Care: May be in-home or out-of-home, such as a nursing home or an assisted living facility 
  • Chore Services: Scrubbing floors/walls, moving furniture, snow removal, chopping firewood, etc.
  • Environmental Modifications: Also referred to as home modifications, including wheelchair ramps, grab bars, walk-in tubs, etc.
  • Meals: Home delivered or served in a group setting
  • Residential Supported Living Services: 24 hour care access in an assisted living home
  • Specialized Medical Equipment and Supplies: Handheld showers, alarmed medication dispensers, portable wheelchair ramps, etc.
  • In-Home Specialized Private Duty Nursing
  • Transportation: Medical and non-medical

Eldercare Financial Assistance Locator

  • Discover all of your options
  • Search over 400 Programs

How to Apply / Learn More

The Alaskans Living Independently Waiver is not an entitlement program, which means the number of people that can receive services via this waiver is limited. Therefore, there may be a wait list. Individuals on the wait list will be prioritized based on those who are most in need of services.

For more information about this waiver, click here.  For additional information or to apply, call the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Senior and Disability Services. Click here to find the number of your local office.