Success Stories

Most names have been changed to protect our clients' privacy.


State agrees to more timely DD eligibility determinations for transition age applicants

The families of two 19 year old students with significant intellectual disabilities sought DRRI’s help in trying to access adult developmental disability services through the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH). Both had been waiting for over 10 months for a response to their applications for services, despite a state law requirement for a determination within 30 days.  DRRI sent a demand letter to BHDDH indicating it would take legal action if determinations on the applications were not promptly made.  DRRI also provided a declaration regarding these and other families’ experiences for the Department of Justice to submit to the Court in a hearing on the state’s compliance with the Consent Decree in U.S. v. Rhode Island (CA 14-175).  During the hearing, the Court raised DRRI’s declaration sua sponte, prompting a subsequent meeting with state officials and DRRI.  Shortly thereafter the two 19 year-old clients were found eligible for adult developmental disability services.  BHDDH also indicated it will act upon the applications of students still in high school in a more timely manner so that adequate transition planning can occur.


Abuse and neglect investigation leads to removal of guardian and restoration of decision making rights

After receiving a report from the state Long-Term Care Ombudsperson about suspected abuse, DRRI filed a petition to remove the guardian of Brenda, a 70 year old individual with an intellectual disability. Brenda had lived in her family home until her parents’ deaths and then moved in with her sibling, who became her guardian.  Over the years her situation deteriorated, as another sibling moved into the household, resources were depleted, conditions in the home became squalid, and she developed physical limitations for unknown reasons.  Police became involved after another family member visited and found Brenda thin, unkempt, and with prominent bruises around her face and arms.  Brenda denied abuse by her guardian or other sibling, but was happy to be removed from her living situation to a nursing facility.  She had not received medical attention for years, and needed assistance in determining the cause and extent of her physical limitations.  After several hearings, the Probate Court determined Brenda had no need for a guardian, and only needed some help with health care decisions.  A younger relative stepped forward and agreed to be Brenda’s agent under a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.  Brenda is enjoying her new living arrangement and is happy to no longer have her sibling as guardian.


Secured residential support that allowed client to maintain her employment

Cheryl’s family contacted DRRI after her developmental disability service provider determined it could no longer afford to support Cheryl in her own apartment, where she had lived for many years. Cheryl wanted to move into a group home of her current provider that was close to her employment and where a friend also resided.  The state Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), however, wanted Cheryl to move to a shared living arrangement (SLA), pursuant to its declared policy for prioritizing SLA placements.  The SLA that was offered was so far from Cheryl’s workplace, that she would have had to quit her job if she lived in the SLA.  Moreover, Cheryl’s treating therapist believed that Cheryl’s behavioral condition would be exacerbated by the move to the SLA.  DRRI provided advocacy strategies to the family, who then submitted a letter from the therapist to the state.  Thereafter, the DDD agreed to support Cheryl’s residence in the group home.  She is happy in her new home, and pleased she was able to keep her job.


Denial of housing application reversed at hearing

David has a developmental disability. David’s family called DRRI after he was denied housing by a Public Housing Authority (PHA) due to a prior eviction. We represented David at an informal hearing before the PHA regarding the denial of his application.  We successfully convinced the PHA that David would have the supports in place to live independently and meet his responsibilities as a tenant with support services from the state Division of Developmental Disabilities.


Job coach and integrated employment preserved

Edward’s family contacted us because he was in danger of losing his integrated, competitive job which he had held for many years. Edward has autism.  He had recently lost funding for his job coach and, as a result, was at risk of losing his job.  Because of Edward's high earnings he was not eligible for Supplemental Security Income or regular Medicaid.  We helped him to apply for the state Medicaid Buy-in Program for Working Adults (aka "the Sherlock Plan"), a special program for higher wage earners.  When Edward's application was initially denied, we successfully represented him in an administrative appeal.   Edward’s ongoing job coaching services are now able to be paid for through Medicaid and he maintains his employment.


Hearing officer overturns state's denial of eligibility for DD services

Francesca, who has a mild intellectual disability, applied to the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH) for adult developmental disability (DD) services and was denied because the state did not believe her limitations were significant enough to meet the eligibility criteria .  Francesca appealed the denial but lost at an informal hearing.  DRRI agreed to represent Francesca at a formal hearing.  The hearing officer found in Francesca’s favor after we presented testimony from her social worker regarding her significant functional limitations.  As a result, Francesca was found eligible for adult DD services.