The state lawmakers created The Minnesota Essential Community Supports (ECS) program to provide financial support to people 65 years of age and older who wish to remain living in their residence or living independently in private homes. This program is intended for persons functionally ineligible for long-term care Medicaid. This means that they do not require the level of care provided by nursing home facilities, but do require some assistance to remain living at home. Usually this means that they require assistance with their Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL), such as cooking and cleaning, and no more than one of their Activities of Daily Living (ADL), such as eating, grooming, and dressing. Eligible participants are financially outside of the limits for Minnesota Medicaid, also called Medical Assistance in Minnesota.
ECS support is only for individuals who wish to reside in private homes. One cannot reside in assisted living or a nursing home and receive this support.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services administers the ECS program, offering qualified applicants, as of 2020, up to $424 a month (over $5,000 / year) towards essential services, such as home meal delivery, homemaker services, and adult day care.
To receive ECS support, applicants must meet several different eligibility criteria.
Age – applicants must be at least 65 years of age.
Location – applicants must be Minnesota residents. In addition, they must reside in (or be moving to) a private home. Residents in assisted living (board and care homes) or nursing homes are not eligible.
Functional Requirements – applicants must require at least one of the services provided under this program (see below) such as adult day care or chore services. However, candidates’ needs cannot be so severe that full-time nursing home level care is necessary.
Financial Status – Financial eligibility criteria changes annually, but as mentioned previously, applicants cannot be financially eligible for Minnesota Medicaid. As of 2020, in order for an applicant to be considered financially eligible for the Essential Community Supports program, their combined income and assets must be less than $39,659. (This amount is the projected cost of 135 days of nursing home care, plus the asset limit for Medical Assistance, which is $3,000.) However, to be eligible for services, an individual must have income and assets under this amount, yet have income greater than $1,296 / month ($15,552 / year) or assets greater than $3,000. Individuals who have income equal to or less than $1,296 / month and assets equal to or less than $3,000 are not eligible for this program. Persons with income and assets under these limits should be eligible for similar services through Minnesota Medicaid.
Essential Community Supports provides eligible beneficiaries up to $424 a month (as of the time of this writing) towards the following services:
A long-term care consultant will make a final determination regarding the exact benefits and services each beneficiary is eligible to receive.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services has established two hotlines for individuals seeking information on applying for the Essential Community Supports program: the Senior LinkAge Line can be reached by dialing 1-800-333-2433, and the Disability Linkage Line at 1-866-333-2466.
Additional program information can be found on the Minnesota Department of Human Services webpage.
Once candidates have been approved, their eligibility must be reassessed each year.