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The State of Alabama Independent Living (SAIL) Medicaid waiver, previously called the Homebound Waiver, is designed to help disabled individuals remain living in their homes or community instead of moving into a skilled nursing facility. Elderly residents of Alabama are eligible should they meet the medical requirement. For instance, neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease meet the medical diagnosis requirements. To help an individual move out of nursing home care and back into the community, the waiver provides case management and may also pay for assistive technology, personal care services, and changes to the participant’s place of residence, such as making the home wheelchair accessible, in order to increase a disabled individual’s ability to live independently.
A Medicaid-certified home health agency must operate the personal care services unless there is no such service available in the individual’s geographic area. In this situation, the participant may select friends, neighbors, and some family members to be compensated for the personal care services they provide. However, children, spouses, and parents are barred from being paid as caregivers.
The SAIL waiver is administered by the Alabama Medicaid Agency and is operated by the Department of Rehabilitation Services. Also, to avoid confusion, note that there are 3 sub-programs under this waiver: Homebound Services, SAIL Medicaid Waiver, and Independent Living Support.
The SAIL waiver takes part in the Personal Choices Program, which allows individuals to direct their own personal care. Another Alabama Medicaid program that might be of interest is the Elderly and Disabled Waiver.
To be eligible for the SAIL Medicaid waiver, individuals must be at least 18 years old and have a physical disability that requires nursing home level care. This disability must not be related to aging and must have an onset before the age of 60.
As mentioned above, qualified applicants must require nursing home level care. However, under this waiver, the individual lives at home or must be willing to move from a skilled nursing facility back to their home or that of a family member to receive personal care and home health services. In addition, applicants have to be financially eligible to receive Medicaid HCBS (waivers). This means that they must demonstrate that their monthly income and current savings are below certain levels.
2018 Alabama Medicaid Waiver Income Limits
Individual applicants are limited to a monthly income of no more than $2,250, and for married couples in which both spouses are applying for benefits, the monthly income limit is $3,375. These figures are equivalent to 300% of the SSI Federal Benefit Rate. However, if the applicant is married and their spouse is not applying for Medicaid, they can allocate some of their joint income to the non-applicant spouse as a living stipend. Individuals over the income limits for Alabama Medicaid can also set up a Qualified Income Trust. Often called Miller Trusts, applicants can become eligible for Medicaid once they demonstrate that the trust is properly set up and being administered correctly.
2018 Alabama Medicaid Waiver Asset Limits
The asset limit for a single applicant is $2,000, and the asset limit for a married couple in which both spouses are applying for benefits is $3,000. In the situation where only one spouse of a married couple is applying for the SAIL waiver, the non-applicant spouse is permitted up to $123,600 in countable assets. These limits are somewhat misleading in that many resources are, or can be, considered exempt. For example, the full value of one’s home is exempt, provided the applicant or their spouse lives there, or a single applicant plans to return to the home, and it is valued under $560,000. A car, burial plots, final expense insurance (also referred to as burial insurance), household items, and even some personal effects are can be exempt.
As implied by the words "Independent Living" in the Waiver name, the services provided under this waiver are selected to help participants achieve that objective.
One should contact the Alabama Medicaid office at 1-800-362-1504 to learn more about this waiver program and begin the application process. While open to residents statewide, participation may be limited due to enrollment caps on the program. (As of last year, wavier slots were capped at 660.) Also, the senior’s local Area Agency on Aging may be an additional information resource to learn whether this program is right for you or your loved one.