Page Reviewed / Updated – Nov. 30, 2022

Program Description

Pennsylvania’s Options Program provides aging state residents with care services in their homes, such as personal care, home health, and home delivered meals. Assistance is also provided to family caring for a loved one at home, such as adult day care, respite care, and specialized medical transportation assistance.

The 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 (medical assistance) eligible applicants will be assisted with Medicaid funds. An individual cannot be receiving services via the Pennsylvania Department of Aging Medicaid Waiver 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.

In some areas of the state, the Options Program might also be referred to as PA Older Americans Act Services.

Eligibility Guidelines

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 (activities of daily living), 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 134% and 300% of the FPL have co-payments based on a sliding scale. In 2022, these percentages translate as follows:

Single or widowed applicants receive services at no charge if their monthly income is less than $1,506 ($18,075 / year). Individuals with income up to $3,397 / month ($40,769 / year) are eligible for some level of assistance. Married couples or two-person households receive services free of charge with monthly income up to $2,029 ($24,352 / year). Should the couples’ monthly income exceed $4,578 ($54,930/ year), they are no longer eligible for financial assistance.

Benefits and Services

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.

  • Adult day care
  • Assistive technology 
  • Companion care
  • Counseling
  • Home health
  • Home management
  • Home modifications (lifetime cap of $15,000)
  • Home delivered meals
  • Housecleaning
  • Durable medical equipment / supplies 
  • Personal assistance services
  • Personal care 
  • Pest control / fumigation
  • Personal Emergency Response Services (PERS)
  • Respite care
  • Specialized medical transportation

It is estimated the maximum amount in monthly services an individual can receive in 2022 is $765. The max can be increased to $1,900 a month for two circumstances: a senior with a needs assessment score at or above 56 points or a senior who receives older adult daily living services.

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How to Apply / Learn More

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.

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