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Pennsylvania's Options Program begins with a comprehensive assessment of the applicant's health and physical abilities. The assessment determines their care needs and presents different funding options based on their financial situation. Some of the financial assistance options presented may overlap with other programs outlined on this website such as Medicaid and the PDA Waiver. However, the Options Program also separately funds some assistance services through block grants provided to local Area Agencies on Aging (AAA). To be clear, Medicaid eligible applicants will be assisted with Medicaid funds. An individual cannot be receiving services via the Pennsylvania Department of Aging Medicaid Wavier and be eligible for services via the Options program. However, those persons found to be ineligible for Medicaid may still receive free or low priced services funded by other means.
Among these services are supports which help the senior to remain living at home or help family members to care for their loved one. As an example, personal care, home health and home delivered meals help an individual live independently. Adult day care, respite care and transportation assistance help a family to care for a loved one in their homes.
In some areas of the state, the Options Program might also be referred to as PA Older Americans Act Services.
As the Options Program provides assessments, as well as services, eligibility is not a factor for the program on the whole. However, the portion of the program that provides financial assistance or care services not funded by Medicaid requires that applicants be legal Pennsylvania residents, 60+ years old, have difficulty with daily functioning, and be willing to provide evidence of their financial income and assets. Financial information is not used for eligibility, but rather to determine sources of assistance, and if, and how much cost sharing for services are required.
Those participants with incomes at or less than 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) are not responsible for cost sharing, also referred to as co-payments, for assistance. Participants with incomes between 133% and 300% of the FPL have co-payments based on a sliding scale. In 2017, these percentages translate as follows:
Single or widowed applicants receive services at no charge if their monthly income is less than $1,336.66 ($16.040 / year). Individuals with income up to $3,015.00 / month ($36,180 / year) are eligible for some level of assistance.
Married couples or two person households receive services free of charge with monthly income up to $1,799.91 ($21,599 / year). Should the couples’ monthly income exceed $4060.00 ($48,720 / year), they are no longer eligible for financial assistance.
Each program candidate is assessed and approved for a different suite of services as their needs dictate. Benefits can include any of the following, but not all services are available to all candidates nor are there always funds available for services. Some of these services can be self-directed, meaning the service recipient has the choice to choose their service provider.
In general, the maximum amount in monthly services an individual can receive is $765.
Applications and assessments are managed locally by the network of Area Agencies on Aging. Contact your local AAA to begin the application process. Some additional information is available about the program here.