State of California, DPSS, IHSS Complaint - Not paid for 2 months now!

Review by CAMedWmn on 2005-03-28
POMONA, CALIFORNIA -- I will do my best to describe the situation. I am seriously limited as to what I can state here due to HIPAA regulations.

Last January (2005), I began taking care of a client with advanced ALS. The client is in need of 24 hour total care, and lives in their home. I filled out all the necessary paperwork (or at least I thought I did) and began working.

In February I had to threaten to quit because I had not been paid for services rendered, and the client was now attempting to get me to pay them $300.00 monthly for the privilege of being on call 24/7 without pay. Our agreement was for $8.10/hr, plus beni's, plus free room and board. I can easily make twice that at area hospitals with my background and experience, but was doing this as a favor for a teacher of mine (who is also the client's friend).

Around mid February, I was contacted by the Pomona, CA district DPSS office's IHSS (In Home Supportive Services), and told the reason I hadn't been paid yet is because they had not received any paperwork. I went to the office, completed the paperwork, and handed it to the case worker for the client personally. I was told I would be paid for February, but not January. The client subsequently paid me for January.

2 weeks ago I received time sheets to be completed for March 2005, however there was no check. When I called DPSS/IHSS, I was told that they had overpaid another provider who billed them for 283 hours (he worked less than half that), and that they were fixing the matter and I should receive a check for the 141.5 billable hours I am authorized for February within a week.

Last week the provider who was overpaid told me I would not be paid for February 2005. Seems the case worker decided he could keep the money and that I didn't need to get paid, or something to that effect. I have been unable to get in touch with anyone at DPSS/IHSS beyond leaving messages on their voicemail. I am now also owed (past due) for the first half of March 2005 (70.75 hours).

As of this writing, I am owed for 283 hours work performed at $8.10 per hour (the agreed upon rate). This is not the actual hours I've worked, which are 20% more, just the ones I'm allowed to bill the state for. I am now owed $2,292.30, and have no clue as to when I might get paid.

The thing I did notice is that the caregivers who are working "under the table" are paid promptly and a salary, one gets $320 a week whether she works or not. She never works nights, weekends, or any overtime. She has not shown up for work at least 25% of the days she is assigned, and is late arriving and leaves early on all the others.

I work nights, weekends, holidays, etc. I am live in, so I deal with ANY and ALL emergencies that come up, and they do come up frequently. I work 40 plkus hours weekly, and get paid for less than 70% of the work I do. I am always early for and leave late from my assignment. I go above and beyond to care for my client, and have saved her life twice in the last 30 days in incidents stemming from negligence on the part of other caregivers.

It now appears I have done it all for free. In addition, I am being harassed and threatened into quitting, something that makes this whole situation not worth it. Between this and the non-payment situation, I gave notice yesterday. They want me to keep working until they find a replacement (I assume for free, no doubt), but I informed them they have until I find another job (which should be fairly quickly).

One must wonder how many other caregivers have been defrauded and then harassed or threatened when they refuse to work twice as hard as everyone else for no pay.

My client is judgment proof. The state refuses to honor their agreement to pay me for services, and claims my only recourse is against the client. Meanwhile, I am the only caregiver who hasn't been paid. All the others get paid rather well, and from what a gather the money is the overpayment that resulted from my wages being redirected to another provider.

Meanwhile, the union that is supposed to protect caregivers from this sort of fraud (SEIU 434B) has yet to respond to my inquiries as to how best to resolve this situation and get my back pay. I did finally get an application for health coverage, about an hour after I gave notice.

The moral to this story? All caregivers should require the CLIENT to pay them weekly, and refuse to return to work the first time a check is late or dishonored. Let the client bill the state or county agency, and put up with all the hassle involved with that. Get ALL financial and living arrangements in writing, in advance of performing any work, and get it notarized and witnessed by a disinterested third party. Also, refuse to work for any client who is "judgment proofed" by their family, unless you can get whomever has all the assets to agree to be the responsible party for payment for your services.

The second the deal is broken, start looking for employment elsewhere. You are required to finish your last shift (you can be arrested if you don't, and barred from healthcare, for abandoning your patient), but refuse to return until paid for ALL services rendered to date. You are not obligated to give notice to any employer who is late with or does not pay you what you have rightfully earned.

Too many people want something for nothing, and it is the honest and open-hearted ones who end up paying the price.
Comments:6 Replies - Latest reply on 2013-10-28
Posted by CAMedWmn on 2005-03-29:
A follow up post...

I met with the person at IHSS responsible for processing payments to care providers today. Seems they overpaid another care provider, and as such automatically refused to pay me. This policy, of course, makes no sense, but this is what they did.

From what I was told by "Amy" and "My Dien," they overpaid the other caretaker based upon a clerical error. The other caretaker was only authorized for 141,5 hours for that month, but billed them for 283 hours. As such, they automatically paid him for the 283 by mistake, but punished me for the mistake by not paying me.

State laws and policies dictate that if a caregiver is overpaid, the amount of the overpayment is to be deducted from future payments. Unfortunately, IHSS chose instead to deny my payment, based upon the promise from the caregiver that was overpaid that I would be paid what I was owed from him.

Caregivers are strongly advised to not participate in California's IHSS program at all. From what I learned today from IHSS officials, they can pretty much do as the please when it comes to payments. If they pay your client, and said client is judgment proof AND decides not to pay you, your work and efforts on behalf of the client were for free. You can sue if you want, but you will never collect one cent. If they overpay another caregiver, and that caregiver is considered the primary caregiver, you will receive nothing no matter what you do.

To date, I am owed $2,292.30 for bilable services by IHSS, and another $477.90 by the client themselves. I have been fired from my job for asking for some compensation from the work I've done, and have now been subjected to repeated death threats if I pursue the matter. My race, religion, sexuality, and gender have also been attacked. I face bankruptcy, homelessness, and serious health problems as a result of what has been done to me.

At this point, I must wonder if the case workers are complicite in this fraud against me.

Again, do not take on home health clients in California if the payment for your work is to come from IHSS or any other state agency. It simply isn't worth it. Learn from my experience, before it is too late.
Posted by CAMedWmn on 2005-04-01:
Well, I received a partial payment from IHSS, but nowhere near what I was owed. Per the California Department of Labor Division of Wages and Enforcement, penalties are now being assessed at the rate of $97.20 daily effective 4/1 for violation of the rule that says I must be paid in full within 72 hours. Rather than pay me what I am owed to make this problem (and me, of course!) go away, they chose instead to evict me.

I have also learned the client is exactly "judgment proof." The client's conservator is liable, since he is the one who hired me for the position, he is responsible for the repayment of my wages, as well as any penalties. In addition, when the labor board issues a judgment against them, they will be unable to hire anyone else until they pay me what I'm owed.

This turn of events has caused the client's representatives to rethink their position. The person who writes the checks has agreed to pay me what I am owed minus any payments IHSS promises to pay directly to me, which IHSS claims should be here within a week.

This is obviously my first, and last, in-home case. I now understand why so many nurses refuse home-care assignments and employment. I have observed on multiple occasions the client suffering either emotional, financial, or physical abuse, as well as instances of isolation, neglect, and outright abandonment. Yet, when I tried to protect her, she sided with her abusers. It is not worth risking your license or career over to provide in home services in California. It has also had negative conseuences on my health, my finances, and my credit, causing me to rethink my career in nursing.

Now I understand why there is a nursing shortage.
Posted by fruitbat on 2011-07-20:
This office lies to IHSS claimants at an institutional level. Go to any Providers' Intake and the presenter will tell you, with a PowerPoint presentation behind her and her supervisor watching, that families with more than two IHSS claimants can receive no more than 300 hours total. IT IS A LIE! True? ask the hundreds of witnesses at such meetings. Ask, like I did, a senior judge. There are, in an average month, 730 hours. If authorized, a person may work and be paid for ALL of those hours.
Posted by Nancy Rodriguez on 2013-08-01:
I started taking care of a woman whos previous caretaker was pregnant gave birth and neglected to tell the woman she would be absent a month an a half. I started working for her March 26 2013. It is July 31, 2013 and I have not gotten paid. I call the case worker the time sheet worker even went in person with the woman to find out turns out she had been terminated from the program because nobody was being paid. We explained the worker was informed of me starting and going to orientation and the FBI review and they informed us the worker was no longer there and nothing was either authorized or recorded. SO now I was told I had to wait till mid August to request pay. The reason for that was the time sheet clerk is on vacation and returns on August 12, 2013. I can't anyone to call me back or tell me what is going on. This is in Hawthorne California.
Posted by Nancy Rodriguez on 2013-08-01:
Also I have seen a lot of home care workers and most are not in the nursing field I think we whom are in the nursing field should get paid as professional care takers and the non experienced as care takers. my clients last worker was pregnant and her family member and she came over to sleep and eat and would not take her to the store because her car was wasting.
Posted by Hannah on 2013-10-28:
Working weekends for a client who wants me to move furniture, feed her animals, and listen to her complain about her providers, past and present. Unbearable to be around and a manipulative personality. She is now threatening to report me to the "heads" of IHSS for not giving adequate notice that I would not be returning. She never called me to return and is now refusing to sign timesheets. When a client badmouths providers and others upon the initial interview, that may be a clue to run the other way. This woman stated that she has had many providers in a short time that just didn't work out. I'm a little worried that IHSS will believe this nut because she uses her "disability" to manipulate the system. I don't want my name slandered. Too risky to continue this line of work.

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