Personal Care Assistance (PCA) Program
updated June 13, 2024

The personal care assistance (PCA) program helps people with common daily activities so that they can be more independent in their homes and communities. Most PCA services are at home, but they can also help people wherever their daily activities take them, like the supermarket, at work, or at the library.

PCA services are for people who get Medical Assistance (MA) benefits and need help with the types of physical care and other supports that a personal care assistant performs. Some people with MinnesotaCare also qualify.

How It Helps

This program pays for a personal care assistant (PCA) who can help you with physical care like dressing, bathing, grooming, eating, toileting, transferring, mobility, and positioning.

The PCA may also help with other things, like meal preparation, shopping, paying bills, reminders, and travel with the person to medical appointments or community events.

PCAs cannot help you with things like home maintenance and repairs or medical tasks, such as giving injections, or deciding when or how much medication you should take.

You can find out more about PCA services on the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) website.

How to Qualify

To qualify, you must contact your local county or tribal human services office and ask for an assessment for PCA services. They’ll send a person to visit your home, review your health situation, and see how much and what types of help you need.

You might qualify for the PCA program if you live in your own home or apartment and the assessment shows that you:

  • Need help with the types of physical care and other supports that a personal care assistant performs related to physical disabilities, chronic disease, aging, behavioral diagnoses or mental illness
  • Can make your own decisions about care or have someone who can, and
  • Qualify for MA
    • Note: If you have MinnesotaCare and are pregnant or under the age of 18, you may also qualify.

If PCA services are right for you, you will be approved for services based on your needs. You’ll get information about the assessment results and a letter called a “service authorization” that says the types of services you’ll get, the amount of time you’ll get for services, and when they can start. It could range from 30 minutes a day to 24 hours per day for a person on a ventilator.

What You Pay

You do not pay any fees or copayments for PCA services. However, you may have to pay amounts related to your MA eligibility, such as an MA spenddown, an MA-EPD premium, or an MA-Waiver obligation.

Note:If you don’t qualify for PCA services, you can pay for similar services with your own money by finding a Home Care and Home Health Agency licensed by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

How to Apply

If you qualify for MA, the first step is to contact your local county or tribal human services office to get an assessment. You don’t have to fill out any forms.

After the assessment, you’ll get a copy of the results and a letter that tells you how much and the types of help you can get. If you are approved, you choose a PCA or a provider agency and start getting services.

Finding a PCA

There’s two ways to find a provider:

  • PCA Choice: You choose, hire, and manage your PCAs. You also choose a PCA Choice agency to handle employer tasks, like worker enrollment and billing.
  • Traditional PCA: You choose a PCA agency who will find, hire, and manage your PCAs for you. If you have somebody you have already chosen, you can take that person to the PCA agency to be hired, if the person qualifies. can help you find a PCA agency.

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