What Programs Are Available To Assist People With Disabilities in Georgia?

Is there a Medicaid waiver program in Georgia? Georgia has several waiver programs including:

  • New Options Waiver-
    Formerly the Mental Retardation Waiver Program (MRWP);
  • Comprehensive Supports Waiver- Formerly the Community Habilitation and Support Services (CHSS) Waiver Program;
  • Elderly and Disabled Waiver;
  • Pediatric Program;
  • Community Based Alternatives for Youth;
  • Independent Care Waiver Program

What state department handles the Medicaid waiver program? The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities handles the Georgia Medicaid waiver program for persons with disabilities.

What programs assist people who have developmental disabilities? The Mental Retardation Waiver Program (MRWP) assists people with disabilities who live in Georgia.

What is the best number to call to get started? (706) 792-7741 OR (800) 348-3503.

Emergency Number: For emergency mental health, developmental disability or addictive disease services, call: Georgia Crisis & Access Line: 1-800-715-4225

Is there a website?
If you have any questions write to Catina Tisdale at catisdale@dhr.state.ga.us

Who Qualifies For Assistance?

Eligibility: To be eligible for state-supported developmental disability services, you must have a diagnosis of mental retardation or a developmental disability and meet the criteria for “most in need.” People who are “most in need” of services are those with social, emotional, developmental, or physical disabilities resulting from mental retardation/developmental disabilities who without state-supported services, would have significant difficulty or be unable to successfully live day to day. In addition, family support services are available for people with autism and certain other developmental disabilities.

What is considered a developmental disability? A diagnosis of developmental disability includes mental retardation or other closely-related conditions such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism or neurological problems. These are developmental disabilities that require a level of care provided in an intermediate care facility for people who have mental retardation. A person must have mental retardation since birth or before age 18 or another developmental disability since birth or before age 22 to be considered for the waiver.

Are there income limits to receive services? Your income and ability to pay determine the cost to you for state-supported services. As part of determining eligibility for state-supported developmental disability (DD) services, your ability to pay will be evaluated. If you are eligible for DD services under the waiver, the Mental Retardation waiver pays for most community-based DD services. Any payment for services will be discussed with you before you receive services.

How old do you have to be to start receiving services? You have to be at least three years old to be on the Georgia Medicaid Waiver program.

Is There a Waiting List For Services?

How long is the waiting list? Most people will wait several years before getting Medicaid Waiver services in Georgia. The waiting list is based on need. Georgia is working to get people out of state hospitals. If you have family support and/or have less need, it could be years before you get services.

How many people are on the waiting list? There are over 10,000 people on Georgia's waiting list. DBHDD moved 900 people off the short-term planning list in 2012. The short-term planning list is comprised of individuals with developmental disabilities who are waiting for supports through the NOW and COMP waivers. Georgia is working on a five-year plan to dramatically expand community services for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. Those changes are set out in a settlement agreement between the State and the U.S. Department of Justice that was signed in October 2010.

How many people are currently receiving services? There are a little over 12,000 people with developmental disabilities served by the NOW/COMP programs in Georgia.

What assistance is available while you wait? There may be funding for equipment or supplies while you wait for other services.

Is there priority preference for people who are in crisis? Yes, people with the greatest need get waiver services first in the state of Georgia.

What Services Are Offered & What Are The Service Limitations?

What services does the Medicaid waiver program offer? Georgia offers a variety of services to people with mental retardation or developmental disabilities who are eligible for services. Some services are available through state dollars only, while others are available through Medicaid waiver dollars only. Your specific needs will determine which services are most appropriate for you. Services include: Support Coordination; Consumer and Family Education; Counseling and Training; Day Programs; Personal and Natural Supports; Family Support; Nursing Assessment and Services; Physician Assessment and Care; Respite Care; Residential Programs; and Specialized Medical Supplies and Equipment.

What services are available to people living in the family home? Family Support – a broad range of goods and services such as respite, personal living benefits, behavioral supports and specialized clothing or equipment, designed to assist families in supporting a loved one with disabilities who is living in the home.

Does this state offer community group homes?

Does this state offer supported living?

Are there still state owned institutions? How many people are living in institutions? In 2013 there are still about 400 people with disabilities in institutions. That is changing. A 2008 lawsuit (violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Olmstead v. L.C.) required Georgia to relocate 9,000 individuals with mental illness and 750 with developmental disabilities out of hospitals and into communities.

The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) has regional offices throughout the state, including six regional hospitals.

  • Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital closed in 2011.
  • Central State - Milledgeville
  • East Central - Augusta & Gracewood
  • Georgia Regional - Atlanta
  • Georgia Regional - Savannah
  • Southwestern - Thomasville
  • West Central - Columbus
How Do You Select A Provider?

Do providers work for the state? The regional offices representing the Division of MHDDAD do not provide services. Services are provided by agencies under contract with the regional MHDDAD offices.

About how many providers are there in the state? The total amount estimated of Medicaid SCL and HCB waiver providers is 293.

Do you have a choice in providers? Individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families always have a choice in the selection of providers. DBHDD is responsible for sharing a list of approved providers with individuals and families.

How Do You Become A Provider?

Is There A Fee? There is no fee in Georgia to become a provider, however, it can be a rather lengthily process.

DBHDD recruits and qualifies a provider based on the needs of individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. This recruitment and qualifying process is accomplished through the use of a pre-qualification process and an application process. Recruitment cycles will occur two times per year, beginning July 1 and January 1 of each State fiscal year (FY). Interested providers must submit a completed list of Pre-Qualifiers during the specified month of the Open Enrollment period. DBHDD considers all Applicants.

Additional Information


GA Providers

Georgia Providers


A Gem of Comfort (706) 281-2123
Serving Georgia Elderly & Disabled- Provides Respite, Personal Care, & Home Health Aide. Low Rates! Accepts Medicaid, Medicare, & Most Insurance.

QkNotes Universal - Note Writing Software
For Providers & Caseworkers In All States

QkNotes.com - Writing progress notes, service logs, & case notes is as easy as multiple choice and fill in the blanks.

Meritan (901) 766-0600
Serving Georgia
Meritan delivers health, social & support services for individuals and families.

Pineland BHDD 912-764-6906
Pineland is available to provide outpatient mental health counseling, acute stabilization, detoxification, psychosocial rehabilitation, peer, & residential services.


Georgia Ads
Georgia Waivers
  • New Options Waiver: The NOW Waiver stands for New Options Waiver. It provides supports to people who do not need 24 hour care. It was designed for people with disabilities who live with family members or in their own home. There is a limit of $25,000.00 a year for services under the NOW Waiver. This waiver is for people who need less intensive services and supports.
  • The COMP Waiver: stands for COMPREHENSIVE SUPPORTS Waiver. It was designed for people who need a full range of out-of home services or intensive in-home services. The COMP Waiver is also used for people who are transitioning out of institutions into community living.
  • Community Care Services Program / Elderly Waiver: Provides home and community based services to people who are elderly and/or functionally impaired or have disabilities. Contact The Agency On Aging 1-866-552-4463
  • Independent Care Waiver: Offers services that help a limited number of Medicaid recipients with physical disabilities live in their own homes or in the community instead of a hospital or nursing home. ICWP services are also available for persons with traumatic brain injuries. For ages 21-64 Call Georgia Medical Care Foundation 1-800-982-0411.
  • Georgia Pediatric Program (GAPP): The GAPP medical day care program provides specialized pediatric skilled nursing services to medically fragile, ages birth to 3 years of age. The Georgia Pediatric in-home nursing program is for children under the age of 21.


Helpful Links:

Now & Comp Waivers