HCBS Waiver Programs

Waivers for Adults

Waiver programs help people in certain situations live in the community. Who qualifies for waiver benefits depends on:

  • Your disability
  • Your current age and, for some waivers, how old you were when your disability began
  • Your “level of care,” which is based on the level of care provided in different facilities (for example, a nursing facility or hospital), and
  • Your personal finances, including savings and income.

Note: This page introduces the six waiver programs for adults. Learn more about waivers for children.

For adult waiver programs, you must:
  • Have income that’s $2,523 or less per month.
  • Have resources that are $2,000 or less if you are single ($3,000 or less for couples).

You may also qualify for a waiver through the Health First Colorado Buy-In Program For Working Adults With Disabilities (Medicaid Adult Buy-In), which has much higher income limits and no resource limit. Important: The Medicaid Adult Buy-In will not help you qualify for the Developmental Disabilities (DD) Waiver, but it could help you qualify for other waivers like the Supported Living Services (SLS) Waiver.

Learn more about the Medicaid Adult Buy-In.

Colorado’s Adult Waiver Programs

Colorado has six waiver programs for adults:

Each waiver has its own set of benefits and services that are meant to help people with different disabilities and living situations. You may qualify for one waiver or for more than one waiver, depending on your disability and living situation. While you can qualify for more than one waiver, you can only get benefits from one waiver at a time. If you qualify for more than one, make sure to pick the one that’s the best match for you. However, if your life changes and your waiver is not meeting your needs, you can sign up for a different waiver later.

Some waivers may have waiting lists. If you apply for a waiver and there is a waitlist, see if you qualify for another waiver that doesn’t have a waitlist. You can be on a waiver waiting list and still get services through another waiver.

Adult Waiver Program Details

Here is more detailed information about each waiver program. As you read about the waiver programs, check out these useful resources that can help you understand their differences:

See more charts comparing waiver programs.

Brain Injury Waiver (BI)

The Brain Injury Waiver (BI) is for people 16 years old or older who have a brain injury that occurred before they turned 65; the brain injury must also fit within certain medical categories.

To qualify, you must need the types of long-term services that you would get in a nursing home or a hospital.

The Brain Injury Waiver has more than 15 services including adult day services, behavioral management and education, home delivered meals, independent living skills training, non-medical transportation, peer mentorship, and respite care.

To apply for the BI waiver, enroll in Health First Colorado (Medicaid) and contact your local Single Entry Point Agency (SEP).

Community Mental Health Supports Waiver (CMHS)

The Community Mental Health Supports Waiver (CMHS) is for people 18 years old or older with severe and persistent mental health needs that require assistance with one or more Activities of Daily Living (ADL). These needs must be current or have been present within the past year and must meet diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The help this waiver provides is above and separate from what you would get at a Community Mental Health Center.

To qualify, you must need long-term support services comparable to those typically provided in a nursing facility.

If you get services through the CMHS waiver, you are eligible for all Health First Colorado (Medicaid)-covered services except nursing facility and long-term hospital care. You also get other services including, but not limited to, adult day services, home delivered meals, home modifications, non-medical transportation, peer mentorship, residential supports, and respite care.

To apply for the CMHS waiver, enroll in Health First Colorado (Medicaid) and contact your local Single Entry Point Agency (SEP).

Developmental Disabilities (DD) Waiver

The Developmental Disabilities Waiver (DD) is for people 18 years old and older who have a disability and need access to services and supports 24 hours a day. People who get the DD waiver get 24-hour supervision through Residential Habilitation and Day Habilitation Services and Supports. Participants can live in a range of settings including your own home, at home with family, in host homes, and in group homes.

To qualify, you must need a level of care provided in an Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF-IID), which is a setting that looks like a nursing home.

This waiver provides many services including, but not limited to, behavioral services, day habilitation services, non-medical transportation, peer mentorship, and supported employment.

To apply, contact your local Community Centered Board or the Member Contact Center.

Note: The DD waiver has a waiting list. The Supported Living Services Waiver (SLS) is another option for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities that does not have a waiting list. If you qualify for both, you can sign up for the SLS waiver while you stay on the waiting list for the DD waiver.

Elderly, Blind & Disabled Waiver (EBD)

The Elderly, Blind & Disabled Waiver (EBD) is for people 65 years old or older who have a functional impairment or are blind, and for people who are 18-64 who are blind, physically disabled, or have a diagnosis of HIV or AIDS.

To qualify, you must need help and services comparable to those typically provided in a nursing facility.

If you get services through the EBD waiver, you can get all Health First Colorado (Medicaid) covered services except nursing facility and long-term hospital care. Other services you can get through this waiver include, but are not limited to, adult day services, homemaker services, non-medical transportation, residential supports, and respite care services.

To apply for the EBD waiver, enroll in Health First Colorado (Medicaid) and contact your local Single Entry Point Agency (SEP).

Spinal Cord Injury Waiver (SCI)

The Spinal Cord Injury Waiver (SCI) is for people who are 18 years old or older and have a spinal cord injury that leads to a significant functional impairment.

The SCI waiver is only for people living in five counties in the Denver Metro Area: Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson counties.

This waiver provides services including, but not limited to, alternative therapies (like acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage therapy), home modifications, non-medical transportation, respite care, peer mentorship, and In-Home Support Services.

To apply for the SCI waiver, enroll in Health First Colorado (Medicaid) and contact your local Single Entry Point Agency (SEP).

Supported Living Services Waiver (SLS)

The Supported Living Services Waiver (SLS) is for people 18 years old or older with intellectual and developmental disabilities who don’t need 24-hour support. People who get SLS waiver benefits have to make their own living arrangements, including living with family, with roommates, or in their own house or apartment.

To qualify, you must meet the Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF-IID) level of care, which is similar to a nursing home.

This waiver provides many services including, but not limited to, day habilitation services, behavioral services, assistive technology, homemaker services, non-medical transportation, supported employment, and peer mentorship.

To apply for the SLS waiver, contact your local Community Centered Board or the Member Contact Center.

Get Expert Help

If you have questions about the BI, CMHS, EBD, or SCI waivers, contact your local Single Entry Point Agency or the Member Contact Center.

If you have questions about the DD or SLS waivers, contact your local Community Centered Board or the Member Contact Center.

Learn more