A Cardinal Innovations member sits outside on a bright, sunny day. He is wearing a North Carolina Tarheels hat and matching long-sleeve t-shirt.

The NC Innovations Waiver is a health plan for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD) in North Carolina. The NC Innovations Waiver is designed to help individuals and their families receive services and supports in their home and communities to live well.

The North Carolina General Assembly decides how many people receive these services, commonly called Waiver slots. Like other managed care organizations, Cardinal Innovations keeps a list of people interested in receiving these services. This list is called the Registry of Unmet Needs or the Innovations Waitlist.

Waiver slots are assigned based on two factors:
  1. The date someone is placed on the Registry.
  2. The number of people already receiving NC Innovations Services in their county. 
While on the waitlist, there are other potential services that may be available in your community.

What is the Registry of Unmet Needs?

The Registry of Unmet Needs is the waitlist for the NC Innovations Waiver. It is a list of people who are eligible to receive the NC Innovations Waiver but are waiting for funding from the State Legislature to become available. It is commonly referred to as the Registry or the Innovations Waitlist.

What is a slot for the Registry of Unmet Needs?

Typically, there are more people who want these services than spaces and Medicaid funding available. These spaces are called “slots”. Only the state government can approve new or additional slots. When this happens, a person is placed on the Registry of Unmet Needs until a slot becomes available.

Who is eligible for the Registry of Unmet Needs?

You may be eligible if you:
  • Have an IDD diagnosis.
  • Have limitations in three of six major activity areas (self-care, receptive and expressive language, capacity for independent living, learning, mobility, and self-direction and economic self-sufficiency).
  • Need waiver services in order to keep living at home or to move out of an Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/IID) group home/center.

How can I apply?

To start the process of applying for the NC Innovations Waiver, you can fill out a Registry Referral form or call our Innovations Registry Line at 1-800-958-5596.

What can I expect when calling the Registry Line?

Registry Coordinators are available during normal business hours Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. to answer questions by phone. Translation services are available to non-English speaking callers. If you call after-hours, you may leave a voicemail with your contact information and a Registry Coordinator will call you back on the next business day.  

After I submit a referral to the Registry of Unmet Needs, what should I expect?

If you are referred to the Registry of Unmet Needs, here's what happens next:
  1. You'll receive a letter that confirms your referral was received. Our Registry Coordinators will review your information or request more information from you to help move your application along.
  2. You'll receive a second letter about your eligibility for placement on the Registry.
  3. You or your legal guardian will schedule a screening assessment over the phone called the "Risk Support Needs Assessment." It takes about 45 minutes. This assessment is required by the Waiver in order to be placed on the Registry. 
  4. You'll receive a third letter that describes your status on the Registry and confirm the date that you were placed on the Registry.
  5. As you wait for a slot to open, you may be eligible for other services outside of the NC Innovations Waiver. Contact the Registry Line at 1-800-958-5596 to discuss these opportunities. 
If you are not eligible for the Registry, you will receive a letter and be provided the opportunity to appeal the decision. If this happens, contact the Registry Line at 1-800-958-5596 for assistance and/or an explanation of the decision.

What documents will I need to submit with my application for the Registry of Unmet Needs?

You will need documentation from a clinical professional supporting you or your loved one’s diagnosis and an assessment describing your daily functioning.  Below is a list of documents that typically contain this type of information. You may only need one or a combination of documents:

  • Psychological testing
  • Adaptive testing
  • Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
  • Assessments for vocational rehabilitation (employment support)
  • Medical records
  • Guardianship papers
To find out what other documents you may need to submit, contact the Registry Line at 1-800-958-5596.

How many people are waiting to get on NC Innovations Waiver?

The numbers can change on a regular basis, but we update our website to provide a general idea of how many people are on the waitlist. The length of time someone is on the waitlist depends on the county you live in, how many people are ahead of you, and how many slots open each year. You can also call the Registry Line at 1-800-958-5596 to find out more.

How will I find out if a slot becomes available?

We will contact you by phone and by mail multiple times. If we can’t reach you after a certain time period, you may be taken off the Registry of Unmet Needs. That’s why it’s important you follow up with our Registry Coordinators if they try to contact you and to make sure your contact information is always up to date.

What should I do if I move?

If you are moving within the counties that we serve, then you should contact the Registry Line so they can update your contact information. If you are moving outside of the counties we serve and remain in the state of NC, call the Registry Line to update your current address. The Registry Coordinator will send a letter of transfer you to the new managing LME/MCO. This will allow the new LME/MCO to place you on their Registry with the your original date and keep you from having to start over with a new date. If you move outside of the state of NC, then you will be removed from the Registry.   

What can I do if I’m not eligible for the Registry of Unmet Needs or NC Innovations Waiver?

If you receive a letter stating you are not eligible for the Waiver, you will also receive instructions for the Appeals Process. You can also call the Registry Line to get more information and see how additional documents might help you become eligible.

Our Registry Coordinators can also help you access other services outside of the NC Innovations Waiver. Contact the Registry Line at 1-800-958-5596 to discuss these services.


See what services might be right for you or a loved one.

Join our member newsletter