IMPORTANT INFORMATION FROM MASS ADVOCATES FOR CHILDREN
MA Appeals Court
Paula Tartarini v. Department of Mental Retardation (now DDS), July 23, 2012
A MA Appeals Court decision dated 7/23/12 expands the definition of mental retardation that the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) uses and extends DDS eligibility to some individuals who have or who have ever had IQ’s over 70. The decision, Paula Tartarini v. Department of Mental Retardation (DMR) (action commenced in February, 2009 when Department was still named DMR), involves a woman who had an IQ of 71 at age 18, an IQ of 69 at age 40 and an IQ of 71 at age 42 who had been found ineligible for DDS services because she had a borderline IQ, not mental retardation. The DDS hearing officer decided that the score nearest to age 18 was most determinative and that the standard error of measurement--plus or minus five points--should not be applied. The Appeals Court found that the DDS (DMR) regulation requiring an IQ of 70 or below was “invalid because it is inconsistent with the legislation that authorized it.” The Court determined that DDS could not deny services on the basis of IQ as defined in 115 CMR § 2.01 – “Significantly sub-average intellectual functioning” is defined as an IQ of 70 or below in the regulation. The decision further states that the legislature “did not give the department unfettered discretion to define mental retardation. The statute requires that … regulations be based on ‘clinical authorities.’” The decision also noted that the DSM IV-TR includes individuals with IQ’s of 70 -75 who have significant functional impairments as mentally retarded.
HOW DOES THIS EFFECT YOU?
This is a very important decision. Many adults (18+) were denied eligibility for adult services from DDS (formerly DMR) because their IQ score was 1 or 2 points above 70. If your child was previously denied on the basis of the 70 cutoff, he or she may now be eligible based on other factors.