Arkansas Medicaid DAAS ElderChoices Waiver – Eligibility and Benefits

Page Reviewed / Updated - Jan. 2016

What is a Medicaid Waiver?
Medicaid Waivers, also known as Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waivers and Waiver Funded Services, allow qualifying program participants to receive services out of the nursing homes. Medicaid’s standard benefit is to pay for nursing home residential care. However, when available, Medicaid Waivers help to provide more options for individuals. The cost of the care outside of a nursing home needs to be less than the cost of care in a nursing home.

Waiver Description

 Services are specifically chosen to increase the beneficiary's ability to live on their own or with family caregivers. 

The Division of Aging and Adults Services (DAAS) administers this Arkansas ElderChoices Medicaid waiver. With this program, the DAAS serves elderly state residents that require nursing home level care. Participating individuals receive care at home, in the homes of their family, or in their community instead of in a nursing home.

The DAAS has selected the kinds of services to specifically facilitate that care recipients can live independently or with family.  Services such as adult day care and respite care enable the primary caregivers to work and avoid burn-out.  Services such as chore and homemaker decrease the individual's dependence on family members.

Program beneficiaries are given a degree of flexibility in the selection of their care providers.  While not nearly as much flexibility as in some states, in Arkansas, one may choose from a set of pre-approved providers rather than the state simply sending a caregiver without regards to the individual's personal preferences. The ElderChoices waiver may allow relatives, with the exception of a spouse or a legal guardian, to provide services for the qualified individual. In order to do so, they must meet provider service qualifications.

 Arkansas offers two other Medicaid waiver programs of relevance to aging state residents; these are Living Choices and Independent Choices.  The state also offers Personal Care through regular Medicaid.

Eligibility Guidelines

In addition to being at least 65 years old and an Arkansas state resident, applicants must require an intermediate level of nursing home care and demonstrate a functional disability. For instance, assistance may be needed with Activities of Daily Living (ADL), such as eating, moving from one location to another, toileting, etc. The individual must also be willing to live at home and receive care and support there. 

There are also financial considerations with regards to eligibility.  This is a Medicaid waiver and, as such, persons interested in ElderChoices must be eligible for Arkansas long term care Medicaid. 

Arkansas Medicaid Income Limits - In 2016, the monthly income limit for unmarried or widowed applicants is $2,199.  Married applicants can distribute a certain portion of their joint income that is over the limit to their spouse as long as they are not applying for Medicaid as well.

Arkansas Medicaid Asset Limits - The 2016 asset limit is $2,000 for an individual.  For a married couple with a single applicant, the non-applicant—who is sometimes called the community spouse—can have up to $119,220 in addition to the applicant's $2,000.  Certain property is not included when calculating the value on one’s total resources, such as the home that they live in and a single vehicle.

Asset Transfers Considerations – Gifts and under-market value asset transfers are reviewed and the applicant may be penalized if these occurred within 5 years of the date of application.  This policy was instigated to discourage individuals from giving away resources to friends and family for the express purpose of qualifying for Medicaid benefits.

Persons who are financially ineligible to receive Arkansas Medicaid but cannot afford their cost of care might consider retaining a Medicaid planning professional to help them re-allocate their financial resources into trusts and non-countable assets to allow them to qualify for services.


Benefits and Services
  • Adult Companion - May assist with activities, such as preparing meals and laundry, light housecleaning, bathing, etc.
  • Adult Day Care
  • Adult Day Health Care - Provides services that are rehabilitative and therapeutic
  • Adult Family Homes - Also referred to as adult foster care
  • Chore Services - Heavy cleaning/yard maintenance, etc.
  • Home-Delivered Meals - Hot meals, frozen meals, emergency meals
  • Homemaker Services - laundry, shopping, preparation of meals, and housekeeping
  • Personal Emergency Response System - Installation and ongoing service
  • Personal Care
  • Respite Care for the Caregivers - Facility and in home

How to Apply / Learn More

This waiver is available statewide throughout Arkansas.  To learn more or apply, one can download a brochure, visit the state website or call 1-501-682-2441.

Waiting lists may exist as it is estimated that the waiver has been approved to provide assistance to a maximum of 5,600 recipients concurrently.