Intellectual Disabilities

What is an intellectual disability?

A person with intellectual disability is eligible for services. Pennsylvania recognizes the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities’ definition of intellectual disability, which is “a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills.” Under the definition, this disability originates before age 22.

What services are available to support people with intellectual disability?

Most consumers of county ID services are adults, although some children receive services. A variety of community intellectual disability services are available to people with intellectual disability and to their families. Services range from out-of-home residential settings to those that support families who have a relative with an intellectual disability who resides in their home. There are also vocational programs that focus on work opportunities. These programs are designed to enable individuals with intellectual disability to live in their home communities, develop to their fullest potential and become contributing members of their communities.

Pennsylvania has two home and community based service options for individuals with intellectual disability who are eligible for Medical Assistance – the consolidated waiver and the person and family directed support (PFDS) waiver. These waivers are operated by the Department of Public Welfare’s Office of Developmental Programs (ODP). The state also allocates some “base” dollars which counties manage to offer services to individuals who are not enrolled in waivers, or to cover services that are not covered by Medicaid.

What does county government do to help people with intellectual disability?

County MH/ID offices verify eligibility for intellectual disability services which are overseen by the Office of Developmental Programs in the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. ODP provides the funding allocations, licensing of providers, and regulatory and policy direction to the county MH/ID program. Counties and joinders have all agreed to serve as the administrative entity for the consolidated and person- and family-directed support waivers. This means the counties perform administrative functions defined in a contract between each county or joinder and the commonwealth. Compliance with these activities is required to assure Pennsylvania continues to receive federal Medicaid dollars to support waiver programs. Counties also allocate and manage “base” dollars allocated by the state.
 
How do I sign up for services?

Contact your county’s MH/ID office for more information about local services.

Financial eligibility determinations for Medical Assistance coverage through behavioral HealthChoices are made by the Department of Public Welfare’s County Assistance Offices.
Applications for financial eligibility can be done in person or online.