New DDD Eligibility Policy
Effective April 16, 2012, the Division of Developmental Disabilities has a new Management Bulletin (MB) reinterpreting eligibility rules that affect DDD clients or applicants with autism, epilepsy, or other conditions similar to intellectual disability. In response to Northwest Justice Project’s concerns that DDD’s eligibility rules discriminated against people who are dually diagnosed with mental illness and a developmental disability, DDD is now allowing its eligibility and intake staff to consider evidence of functional limitations prior to the onset of mental illness. Previously, DDD would reject applicants or terminate eligibility for people in these eligibility categories if they had a mental illness that also affected their adaptive or functional skills.
NJP’s client had been a lifelong DDD client with autism, but had developed mental illness during her teenage years. DDD terminated her at age 18 because they claimed she could not prove evidence of functional limitations that was not impacted by her mental illness, even though she had clearly qualified for DDD services in her youth. NJP informed DDD that this eligibility barrier violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and made a demand that DDD stop enforcement of this rule. The new MB is DDD’s response.
The new MB allows eligibility caseworkers to use evidence of functional impairment prior to the onset of the person’s mental illness to show that the person has a qualifying developmental delay. NJP suspects that many DDD clients were terminated or potential clients were denied eligibility due to this rule. This rule is most likely to have affected people with autism, epilepsy, or an “other condition” and who were also diagnosed with a significant mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. Functional impairment is typically proven by one of three tests, which are commonly abbreviated VABS, ABAS, or SIB-R, and these are the tests likely to have been rejected by DDD.
These clients should be encouraged to apply again, and to contact legal services for assistance (contact information below) if they were terminated, denied, or encounter new difficulties enrolling with DDD.
Please distribute this press release to all your local networks and ask them to forward to families involved with ASD’s.
Northwest Justice Project
401 Second Ave. S #407
Seattle, WA 98104