For qualified low-income seniors, SOURCE helps cover the costs of both medical care and non-medical personal care.
SOURCE is an acronym for Service Options Using Resources in a Community Environment. The program is designed for frail elderly and disabled Georgians who require the level of care typically provided in a nursing home. However, this program allows eligible individuals to receive care in their homes or communities (such as in assisted living facilities, also referred to as personal care homes) and avoid having to use long-term nursing home care. For some very low-income participants, this program provides both medical care and non-medical personal care services.
Originally, this program was only available in certain areas of the state, but now it is open to residents statewide. As of 2021, approximately 19,000 Georgians receive assistance under this program. However, even with increased capacity, it is possible that a waiting list for services may exist. If an individual is already on Medicaid, the general enrollment time is two months.
This waiver is operated under Georgia’s Elderly and Disabled Medicaid Waiver and provides home and community based services. It is administered by the Georgia Department of Community Health.
To be eligible for the SOURCE Waiver, an individual must be 65 years of age or older, or if he or she is under the age of 65, must be physically disabled. As the waiver is intended to divert individuals from nursing home placement, a requirement is that they need nursing home level care. To make this determination, an assessment must be completed.
Income and savings also play a role in the eligibility requirements. This Georgia Medicaid waiver has both income limits and financial resource (asset) limits. For 2022, the income limit for an individual is $841 per month — which is the Supplemental Security Income rate (SSI) / Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) — and $1,261 per month for couples.
The individual asset limit is $2,000, and $3,000 for couples, but several assets are considered “non-countable,” or exempt. This includes the applicant’s home, given the applicant lives in the home and his/her home equity interest is under $636,000 (in 2022) or a non-applicant spouse lives in the home.
Other exempt assets include burial contracts, an automobile, life insurance policies, household goods, and personal items such as clothing. “Countable” or non-exempt assets include total cash on hand, bank accounts (checking and savings), and other liquid (easily convertible to cash) investments and retirement accounts if not in payout status.
Unlike income, a couple’s assets are considered jointly owned. (Learn more about Medicaid and joint assets here). Please note that there is an exception in Georgia; the individual retirement account of the applicant’s spouse is not counted.
It is possible to receive Medicaid even if one’s income and / or assets are over the limit(s). Georgia residents who are over the income limit can create a Miller Trust, also called a Qualified Income Trust. With this option, money deposited into the trust no longer counts as income toward Medicaid eligibility.
Another option is to purchase an annuity (converts a lump sum of cash into an income stream) or an irrevocable funeral trust so that one’s countable assets are reduced to within the acceptable limit. Persons hoping to qualify using these approaches should be aware that legal or financial expertise is strongly suggested. One can find Medicaid planning assistance here.
Services are determined on a case-by-case basis. In addition to service coordination, services can include any of the following: