TennCare’s Employment and Community First CHOICES Program Boosts Jobs and Living Choices


People of all ages with an intellectual or developmental disability (I/DD) can apply for long-term services and support through a TennCare program called Employment and Community First CHOICES. The program helps people with I/DD plan, prepare for, and achieve their own goals for employment and independent living in the community.

TennCare is the state Medicaid program in Tennessee.

Benefits and Services in Employment and Community First CHOICES

The Employment and Community First CHOICES program, which started in July 2016, helps people with I/DD do things in the community that they want to do. If a person lives at home with their family, the services help their family support them to become as independent as possible and actively participate in their communities. The program also helps to support independent community living, and residential services are covered for adults who need them.

Services provided in Employment and Community First CHOICES help a person with I/DD get ready to work and to find a full-time job, a part-time job or self-employment. Working helps people build relationships, participate in their communities and become more independent. It can also help improve their health and quality of life.

Since July 2016, nearly 1,400 people have been enrolled in the Employment and Community First CHOICES program.

Click here for a complete list of benefits and services.

Who is Eligible?

To qualify for Employment and Community First CHOICES, a person must:

  • Provide proof that that they have an intellectual disability or other developmental disability. An intellectual disability must start before the age of 18. A developmental disability must start before the age of 22.
  • Qualify financially to get TennCare. For 2017, the person’s income can't be more than $2,205 per month. This amount can change every year. For children under 18, their parents’ income counts, too, unless the child qualifies to receive care in a nursing home. The total value of things you own can't be more than $2,000 (the home where you live doesn't count), and you can't have given away or sold anything for less than what it's worth in the last five years.

Sign Up for the Program

There is a limited amount of funding to serve people each year. This means that not everyone who wants to apply can enroll or get services right away.

There is a referral list for Employment and Community First CHOICES. To get on the referral list, you can complete a self-referral form. Filling out the self–referral doesn’t mean you will be enrolled in the program. You must qualify to enroll in the program. There must be room in the program to enroll you. And you must be in one of the groups that may qualify to get services now.

Click here to see which groups can get services now

Complete the self-referral form here

Visit the TennCare Website to find out more information about signing up for Employment and Community First CHOICES. 

For More Information

If you have TennCare and are interested in the Employment and Community First CHOICES program, you can call your TennCare health plan (MCO). The number is on your TennCare card.

If you don't have TennCare, and are interested in Employment and Community First CHOICES, you can call the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) for free at 800-654-4839.

Learn more about TennCare

Click here for more information on applying for TennCare.

Additional Resources

In addition to the services that help with day-to-day needs, individuals with disabilities and their families also need information to help guide their decisions and assist them in finding emotional support sources to provide comfort and assurance that they are not alone. 

The Tennessee Disability Determination Services (DDS) works with both the state of Tennessee and the Social Security Administration to process Social Security Disability Insurance claims and Supplemental Security Income claims for individuals living with disabilities.