What is a Developmental Disability?

Federal and state laws officially define a developmental disability as a severe and chronic disability attributable to a mental or physical impairment other than mental illness, manifested before age 22, likely to continue indefinitely, and resulting in substantial limitations in major life activities.

Developmental disability is a diverse group of chronic conditions that are due to mental or physical impairments. Developmental disabilities cause individuals living with them many difficulties in certain areas of life, especially in “language, mobility, learning, self-help, and independent living.” Developmental disabilities can be detected early on, and do persist throughout an individual’s lifespan. A developmental disability that affects all areas of a child’s development is sometimes referred to as global developmental delay.

The steps that follow will be:

1. Provide Proof of Disability.

The most recent school, medical, and psychological reports will have proof that a person has a disability. Our Intake Coordinators will assist individuals/families in gathering these records.

2. Visit and Overview.

Once records show that a person has a disability, an Intake Coordinator will meet with you or your family member. They will listen and ask questions, and if the individual is six years or older, they will use state tools to further evaluate eligibility. They will review a person’s abilities in mobility, learning, self-care, self-direction, communication, capacity for independent living and economic self-sufficiency (ages 16 and up only.) Eligibility redetermination takes place at ages three, six, and 16. This means you or your family member might not always be eligible for services.

3. Eligible or not eligible.

You will receive a letter telling you if you are eligible or not. If you are eligible, you will be introduced to an SSA and we will help you access the services you need. If you are not found eligible, you have the right to appeal and the agency will try to help you find other services.