State and Federal Services
Understanding state and federal benefits can be really confusing! These pages will provide you a guide on the departments in Massachusetts and the federal government that provide financial supports and/or services for individuals with disabilities and their families. Please note that these services have their own eligibility guidelines and processes. The Arc and its affiliates can be a resource in helping you understand and navigate services.
Department of Developmental Services (DDS)
MA21 alliance developed a number of trainings and products. One of the booklets guides families around “Connections to a Life in the Community.” Among other things it explores expectations and choices in life. You can find it here. We also developed a policy booklet, “Implementing a 21st Century Disability Policy” promoting our guiding principles and strategies to achieve a society that views disability as natural, where self-direction is available to all individuals and families, and supports needed to live integrated lives are provided. You can find the MA21 policy booklet here.
One area of MA21 policy advocacy is for more flexibility utilizing service funds. Related to more flexible funding was MA21 advocacy for passage of the Real Lives bill. In 2014 Real Lives was passed, placing the choice to self-direct into law and ensuring its permanence. Currently MA21 is focused on educating individuals and families about the option to self-direct and identifying any barriers to implementation.
To learn more about self-direction in Massachusetts, see the resources below. And stay tuned to this page for updates on self-determination and self-direction.
- A resource guide on choice, portability and provider selection is The Massachusetts Medicaid Home and Community-Based Waiver Program: Choice, Portability, Provider Selection – A User Guide for Individuals & Families.
- Information from the Real Lives advisory group including 2 documents under May 6, 2015, with information on service options and transition, Choosing Which Service Method is Best for Me and Important Transition Information Every Family Should Know.
- Download the “Self-Direction Plan and Budget Guide” by The Arc and MA21 members.
- Find your DDS regional lead staff for self-direction here.
- DDS’ online learning site provides an overview of the Real Lives bill at this link: http://ddslearning.com/real-lives-bill/
- A directory of service providers and options if you wish to use self-directed services: https://massreallives.org/
- A Facebook page created by MA21 coalition for those interested in self-directing services: https://www.facebook.com/ConnectingRealLives/
MA 21 Partners: The Arc of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, Mass Advocates Standing Strong, Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, Federation for Children with Special Needs, Disability Law Center, Mass Families Organizing for Change, and the Massachusetts Sibling Support Network.
There are nineteen regional or area based Intensive Flexible Family Support Programs funded by DDS across the state. Children/families must meet specific eligibility criteria for participation in this Program and referral for services is made by the local DDS Area Offices. These services are available to children and young adults up to age 22. For more information contact the local DDS Area Office.
Medically Complex Programs provide a family-driven model of care which supports families with children and young adults having significant cognitive, physical, and complex health care needs who are living at home. The goal is to provide comprehensive wrap-around supports, which consist of specialized case management activities that help families integrate the variety of resources and supports they are receiving in order to care for their family member at home.
This Program complements and is supplemental to other MassHealth, state plan and third party insurers and provides vital assistance to families who need help in coordinating all of the in-home care they receive. This program offers an array of support options to families (parents and siblings) to keep their family member at home and allow for a meaningful quality of life for all, and helps to prevent outof-home placements in a pediatric nursing home or residential school.
Children must meet specific eligibility criteria for participation in this Program and referral for Program services is made by the local DDS Area Offices. However, Program staff are available to provide information and referral services to families and/or provide consultation to staff working with families who have a child/young adult with significant medical, physical and cognitive challenges.
For a list of programs, please visit: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/07/pe/family-support-directory.pdf#page=21
Department of Mental Health (DMH)
Department of Public Health (DPH)
Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA)
- Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC)
- Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC)
- Food Stamp Benefits
- Emergency Assistance (EA)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
MassHealth (Massachusetts’ Medicaid Program)
Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB)
Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH)
Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC)