Promoting Independence and Inclusion

Mar 1, 2021 | Special Education, Special Needs

In 1987 President Ronald Reagan proclaimed March to be observed as “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.” This milestone proclamation called upon Americans to provide the “encouragement and opportunities” necessary for people with developmental disabilities to reach their full potential.

Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. About one in six children in the U.S. have one or more developmental disabilities or other developmental delays.

In general, the functional criteria of a developmental disability are that the person has a chronic physical and/or intellectual disability that:

  • Manifests in the developmental years, before age 22
  • Is lifelong in nature
  • Substantially limits the individual in at least three of these areas of life activity: self-care; learning; mobility; communication; self-direction; economic self-sufficiency; and the ability to live independently.

In our state, services for the developmentally disabled are funded through the New Jersey Department of Human Services’ Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). The disabled person must be 18 or older to be evaluated by DDD, and 21 or older to access DDD services. To qualify, a person with a disability needs to:

  • Apply and be determined to meet the functional criteria of having a developmental disability
  • Be Medicaid eligible and maintain Medicaid eligibility.
  • Establish that New Jersey is the applicant’s primary residence at the time of application.


If you or your child have a developmental disability, we understand that you face plenty of tough challenges and that navigating complex government regulations may be one of them. The experienced attorneys at Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler can help you understand and take advantage of your full rights and benefits as accorded by law. Whether it’s Developmental Disabilities Awareness month, or any month, we’re here for you. Call us for a consultation today.

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