The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued clarification regarding the In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) able and available spouse rules.
An able and available spouse is presumed to be available to provide without compensation any IHSS service except for personal care services and paramedical services. This includes Domestic Services, Related Services, yard hazard abatement, teaching and demonstration, and heavy cleaning. Spouse includes persons who are legally married or legal domestic partners, or two individuals of the opposite sex are holding out to be married. As long as the couple remains married and does not obtain a divorce or annulment, or are not legally separated, the able and available spouse rule apples, even if the couple lives in separate locations and are estranged.
Any spouse who does not receive IHSS benefits is presumed to be able to provide all IHSS tasks except for personal care services and paramedical services, unless there is medical verification of the spouse’s inability to do so. If the spouse submits medical verification of inability to perform a task, the county should authorize house for a non-spouse provider to provide those IHSS services. The spouse would continue to be counted as an able and available spouse for any other services that there is not verification of inability for the spouse to perform.
Services can be performed by another provider when the spouse is unavailable because of employment, health, or other unavoidable reasons such as incarceration, military deployment, a restraining order against the non-recipient spouse, or when recipient spouse has left the home or evicted the non-recipient spouse because of domestic violence, or the recipient spouse has left the home because of domestic violence. This means that meal preparation, medical accompaniment and protective supervision that must be performed while the spouse is unavailable can be provided by another provider.
In addition, if an able spouse is out of the home for employment, health, or other unavoidable reason, for over 24 hours, the spouse is presumed to be unavailable to provide any IHSS services during the period of absence from the home.
If the spouse must leave full-time employment or is prevented from full-time employment because no other provider suitable is available, the spouse may provider medical accompaniment and protective supervision.
This ACL supersedes ACL 08-18, Question 7, that incorrectly stated that the able and available spouse rule does not apply when a married couple does not reside together. (ACL 21-91, September 29, 2021.)