Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for supports funded through the Division of Developmental Disabilities individuals must meet the following definition of developmental disability, as stated in RI State Law:

"The term 'developmental disability adult' means a person, eighteen (18) years or older who is either intellectually developmental disabled adult or a person with a severe, chronic disability which:

    • is attributable to a mental or physical impairment of combination or mental and physical impairments;
    • is manifested before the person attains age twenty-two (22);
    • is likely to continue indefinitely;
    • results in substantial functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activity:
    • personal care
    • communication
    • mobility
    • learning
    • self-direction
    • capacity for independent living
    • economic self-sufficiency; and,
    • reflects the person's need for a combination and sequence of special, interdisciplinary, or generic care, treatment or other services which are life-long or of extended duration and are individually planned and coordinated.


The Division updated its application materials in December 2016. The updated materials are posted here.

If you have any recommendations on how to improve the updated application materials, please submit your ideas to BHDDH.AskDD@bhddh.ri.gov.

Eligibility by 17

BHDDH has an "Eligibility Determination by 17" Policy that establishes a referral process at age 16 with eligibility determination by age 17. Our goal is that individuals with disabilities enrolled in Rhode Island schools will be identified as eligible for adult services before their exit from school or transition programs. School districts will be guided to inform families that they have a right to file an application for BHDDH adult services at the age of 16 for youth who are categorized under IDEA as having an intellectual disability, autism, or multiple disabilities, or are believed to have a developmental disability and be eligible for BHDDH services. It is solely the family's decision whether to submit an application for services at this age.

The policy of determining students eligible by 17 is to make sure students are receiving the right transition services at the right time. By determining eligibility at 17 it provides the schools, Office Rehabilitative Services (ORS) and Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) information on who will be eligible to receive certain services. School districts work with ORS to provide students with job skills, development and training, and then ORS and DDD will work to together to further enhance job skills and assist in finding employment or help with job retention. As an Employment First state we emphasize building employment skills for the youth who will be entering the adult Developmental Disabilities system.


    • Who should submit an eligibility application?
        • Students who are age 16 or older should submit an eligibility application if they meet the criteria outlined in the eligibility packet.
    • When should individuals/families apply?
        • Families are encouraged to apply 60 days before their son or daughter turns 17 years old, although individuals may apply at any time after age 16.
    • Is submitting an application before the age of 17 mandatory?
        • No. This is entirely up to the family and individual. This policy is meant to create a smoother transition experience from schools to adult services for those found eligible.
    • What happens after a completed application is submitted?
        • Once a complete application is submitted with all needed documentation, staff at the Division will send an acknowledgement letter that the application has been received. (Only completed applications can be processed). The application will then be processed and a determination will be made in 30 days.
    • What happens after determination?
        • After an eligibility determination has been made a letter will go out to the family and in some cases the school, if a teacher assisted in filling out the application. The State Transition Coordinator will then be assigned the case to monitor until the student school exit year. At this time a social caseworker will be assigned and meet with the student, the family and the school prior to their transition from the school system to the adult system.