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The Disabled Persons and Family Support (DPFS) program is an assistance program for Nebraska residents with the objective of encouraging independent living as opposed to institutional placement. This is accomplished by providing funds for a range of services that make it easier for families to care for a loved one at home or in the home of a friend or other family member.
This program allows participants to choose their own service providers. The official terminology for this option is called "self-direction" or "consumer-direction". As an illustrative example, if the participant has been approved to receive attendant care, they can select any person to provide them with that care, including relatives. Participants must create a legal contract with their care provider, who must meet the state's other regulations. Eligible applicants have a maximum monthly amount (up to $300) that they can spend, with the hourly rate of the care provider negotiated between the applicant and the care provider.
Another major benefit of the program is home accessibility and safety modifications. The state will pay for changes to the home to improve access and safety. Two examples are wheelchair ramps and handicapped accessible, walk-in showers or tubs.
In addition to being legal Nebraska residents, program beneficiaries must meet the following eligibility criteria.
Functional Need – beneficiaries must have a formal designation of “disabled”. Medical documentation verifying one’s disability must be provided with the application. Alzheimer’s and many related dementias are considered to be a disability and therefore persons with these conditions will qualify medically for this program.
Place of Residence – program participants must reside at home or in the home of a friend or family member. They cannot live in adult foster care, assisted living, or in a nursing home.
Financial – as of March 2018, an individual applicant's monthly income cannot exceed $1,364 ($16,368 per year). For married couples, the limit is $1,784 / month ($21,408 per year). However, deductions are allowable, which can dramatically change how income is counted. Any medical or care expenses, such as medications and additional health insurance costs, that the applicant incurs which is related to their disability can be deducted from their countable income. Therefore, it is not unusual for applicants to have actual incomes 50% higher than the limits published here. Income limits change periodically, but not annually. They are based on the median family income for Nebraska adjusted for household size.
There are also asset limits. As of 2018, a single individual’s assets cannot exceed $7,280, while a couple’s assets cannot be greater than $10,930. Certain things are exempt, including an applicant’s home and personal possessions.
Each program participant is eligible for up to $300 / month in assistive services. The types of services that are available include:
Personal Care - non-medical assistance to help individuals perform their activities of daily living, which includes bathing, grooming, dressing, eating, etc.
Home Health Care - medical or skilled nursing care provided at home usually for persons for whom leaving the home presents extraordinary challenges
Housekeeping - laundry, house cleaning and light yard work that the program participant is unable to manage
Transportation - in some cases transportation is provided and in other cases assistance is provided to enable the use of public transportation
Home Modifications - improvements made to the home to ease accessibility or maintain safety. For home modification projects the spending limit is set to $3,600 annually instead of $300 / month.
Assistive Technology / Home Medical Equipment - any device that helps an individual maintain or increase his/her ability to function independently. As with home modifications, the monthly budget is annualized to $3,600.
The Disabled Persons and Family Support Program is managed by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Medicaid and Long-Term Care. To apply, one can visit their webpage, call their toll-free number at 1-800-358-8802 or download an application.