The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA is a major federal civil rights law that protects the rights of people with disabilities. Disabilities that are covered by the law include any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities; Persons with a history of such an impairment, persons who are regarded by others as having such an impairment, or persons who are associated with persons with such an impairment are also covered by the law.

The law provides protection from discrimination and mandates accessibility to persons with disabilities in several areas: employment, public transportation, public entities, private businesses, telecommunications and many others. Please note that housing is not covered by the ADA. Housing rights for persons with disabilities are covered by the federal Fair Housing Act.

For more information, visit the New England ADA Center.

College Resources for Students

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 700,000 college students – or 3.5% – have some type of disability. Disabled students are entitled to the same quality of education as everyone. These guides provided below walk readers with disabilities through their legal rights, where to find assistance on campus, and provides an extensive list of websites, apps and software resources designed for students’ specific needs.

For more information, go to:

College Resources For Students with Disabilities

Accessible Public Transportation

Communities that have public transportation are required to offer accessible transportation options for those who have limitations due to a disability. The common form of accessible public transportation is called ADA Paratransit. In most cases, consumers need to apply and be determined eligible by their local public transportation entity. ADA Paratransit offers ramps and wheelchair lifts for consumers who use wheelchairs. ADA Paratransit usually offers curb-to-curb service that needs to be reserved several days ahead of time. Some communities also offer free rides once a week from a Dial-A-Ride service.

Click the links below to visit the websites of local public transportation entities to see what is available in your area or download the Northwestern CT Transportation Guide:

Social Security Disability Information


Social Security Disability programs offer a source of income for consumers whose disability prevents them from supporting themselves through employment. In determining eligibility for benefits, Social Security reviews a person’s medical records to determine if the severity of a person’s disability is such that the person cannot work or can no longer work.

Social Security also looks at a person’s work history in determining the amount of Social Security disability income for which a person would be eligible. Social Security offers two different disability income programs:

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – This program is for adults and children who are disabled and whose work history is less than 10 quarters of employment. The current benefit amount is $772.00 per month.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – This program is for person who are disabled and who have worked for 10 or more work quarters. The benefit amount is determined entirely by a earnings history and therefore, the income amount varies from person to person.

For more information, visit the Social Security Administration website at To calculate your benefits, visit

It’s hard to know what disability benefits I’m eligible for. Independence Northwest gave me a lot of information, then showed me where to go to get the full story for myself. 

Independence Northwest Consumer

Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology covers a wide variety of devices and equipment that help people perform tasks that they otherwise could not do because of a disability. This includes simple devices that can help a consumer dress, durable medical equipment such as a wheelchair that provides mobile support, or more advanced technology that allows someone with difficulty speaking to communicate by means of a computer system.

For more information on what may be available in Connecticut, please go the following links:

New England Assistive Technology
Connecticut Tech Act Project
Quadtools by Quadventure Quadtools 

Transition To Community

Money Follows The Person

Since its inception in 1988, Independence Northwest has assisted consumers in skilled nursing facilities to return to life in the community with services and supports to live safe, successful and fulfilling lives in the communities of their choice.

In 2009, Independence Northwest became a transition coordination site for the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration Project of the Connecticut Department of Social Services to assist residents of skilled nursing facilities in northwestern Connecticut in returning to live in the community with home and community based services and supports. Money Follows the Person can provide limited funds to assist in establishing a community residence with home essentials. There is also funding for home modifications and state funded rental subsidies for those who qualify to assist with monthly rental costs.

To Qualify for Money Follows the Person, a consumer must:

  • Have lived in a nursing facility for at least three months,
  • Have or be eligible for Medicaid (Title XIX), and
  • Have a desire to live in a Connecticut community of their choice in a family home, apartment or a community residence where no more than four unrelated people reside.

In addition to these qualifications, a consumer’s cost of care in a community setting must not exceed the cost of care that they presently receive in a skilled nursing facility. For those who do not meet the above criteria, state funded transition services are available to assist a consumer who does not qualify for the Money Follows the Person Project to return to the community.

To get started with Money Follows the Person, call the CT Department of Social Services: Money Follows the Person Unit at 1-888-992-8637 or visit their website at

Community First Choice

Community First Choice (CFC) is a new program in Connecticut offered to active Medicaid members as part of the Affordable Care Act. This program allows individuals to receive supports and services in their home. These services can include—but are not limited to—help preparing meals and doing household chores, and assistance with activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, transferring, etc.). Educational services will be available to help you increase your independence, and learn how to manage your in-home staff.

Who is eligible?

CFC is open to any Medicaid member that can self-direct services and meets Institutional Level of Care. Institutional Level of Care means you would likely need to be in an institution, such as a nursing home, if you did not have home and community based services. This program allows an eligible person to have care and support in their home.

What is self-direction? Can I have help with my self-direction?

Self-direction is when you or someone you appoint makes the decisions regarding your care and services. You have control over what services you want in the home and you have the responsibility of managing those services. Self-direction promotes personal choice and control during a person-centered planning process. If you have a Conservator or someone acting with Power of Attorney (POA), they can help you self-direct.

Who can I hire?

If you enroll in CFC, you will be able to hire from a pool of qualified staff. You can hire certain family members and friends. You will set the hiring requirements for each of your staff

Can I hire a family member?

In most cases, yes! There are some exclusions, which you can discuss with your Care Manager.

Where can I get care?

Care is provided in your home. You can also use staff to go out for community activities, doctors’ appointments, and errands.

Will criminal background checks be completed?

Yes, the State of CT is committed to allowing you to choose who you hire. We also want that to be a well-informed choice. You will receive background check information on all staff you want to hire.

How does this affect me if I am currently on a waiver?

Any individuals currently on a waiver will remain on that waiver. If you use self-directed Personal Care Assistants (PCA) on your waiver, you will automatically become a CFC participant for the covered services. Your Waiver Care Manager can provide additional information.

How does this affect me if I am on the PCA Waiver waitlist?

If you are on the PCA waitlist and are active on Medicaid, you can apply for CFC.

Veterans’ Aid & Attendance


The Veterans’ Aid & Attendance program provides supplemental pension for veterans or their surviving spouses who served during certain wartime eras and who need financial assistance to pay for in home services. The Federal US Department of Veterans Affairs administers the program.

Words cannot say enough about what the program has done for me.

Independence Northwest Consumer

The Subsidized Housing Guide

Medicaid Waiver Programs

Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders

Serves elders (65 years of age and older) who are either at risk of institutionalization or meet nursing home level of care. Clients must meet functional and financial eligibility criteria. Services include homemaker, companion, personal emergency response system, meals on wheels, adult day care, chore, mental health counseling, assisted living, personal care attendant, assistive technology, adult family living, care management and minor home modifications. For more information and to apply, please visit or (scroll to Medicaid Long-Term Services and Supports).

Katie Beckett Waiver

Serves children and young adults with severe disabilities under age 22. Services include case management and Medicaid coverage aimed at keeping the child or young adult in the community instead of an institutionalized setting. The Home- and Community-Based Services that allow the enrollee to remain in the community are provided under the Medicaid state plan. A maximum of 300 slots is funded under legislation. Parents’ income and assets are not factored into the initial eligibility. This offers families of all income levels the opportunity to access services they otherwise may not be able to afford. Waiting list applies. For more information, please contact the DSS Community Options Unit at 1-800-445-5394 (toll-free); or 860- 424-5582 (Hartford area).

Personal Care Attendant (PCA) Waiver

Provides personal care assistance services included in a care plan to help adults with chronic, severe, and permanent disabilities stay in the community. Without these services, the adult would otherwise require institutionalization. The care plan is developed by a Department social worker, in partnership with the adult. The plans are developed with the consumer by an Access Agency care manager. Applicants must be ages 18-64, have significant need for hands-on assistance with at least two activities of daily living (eating, bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting), must lack family and community supports, and meet all technical, procedural and financial requirements of the Medicaid program. Medicaid for Employees with Disabilities is an option. Eligible adults must be able to direct their own care and supervise private household employees or have a Conservator do so. An adult deemed eligible for the PCA Waiver is eligible for all Medicaid-covered services. A waiting list applies. The first step in applying is to fill out and return a PCA Waiver Request Form. To download a copy of the form, please click here: Also see the Community First Choice section.

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Waivers

There are two ABI Waiver programs, known as ABI Waiver I and ABI Waiver II. Both employ the principles of person-centered planning to provide a range of non-medical, home and community-based services, to help maintain adults who have an acquired brain injury (not a developmental or degenerative disorder), in the community. Without these services, the adult would otherwise require placement in institutional settings. Applicants must be ages 18-64, be able to participate in the development of a service plan in partnership with a Department social worker or have a Conservator do so, and meet all technical, procedural and financial requirements of the Medicaid program. Medicaid for Employees with Disabilities is an option. An adult deemed eligible for the ABI Waiver is eligible for all Medicaid-covered services. A waiting list applies. The first step in applying is to fill out and return an ABI Waiver Request Form. To download a copy of the form, please click here: Please note that the correct address to send the form to is DSS, Social Work Services, 55 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, CT 06105.


Department of Developmental Disabilities (DDS) Waivers

Comprehensive Waiver

Provides services for participants with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities that have significant physical, behavioral or medical support needs. Provides adult day health, community companion homes/community living arrangements, group day supports, live-in caregiver, respite, supported employment, independent support broker, adult companion, assisted living, behavioral support, continuous residential supports, environmental modifications, health care coordination, individual goods and services, individualized day supports, individualized home supports, interpreter, nutrition, parenting support, personal emergency response systems, personal support, senior supports, specialized medical equipment and supplies, transportation and vehicle modifications.

Individual and Family Supports Waiver

Designed to support individuals who live in their own or family’s homes and need less extensive supports than those on the Comprehensive Waiver. Provides adult day health, community companion homes (formerly community training homes), group day supports, individual supported employment (formerly supported employment), live-in companion, prevocational services, respite, independent support broker, behavioral support, companion supports (formerly adult companion), continuous residential supports, environmental mods, group supported employment (formerly supported employment), health care coordination, individualized day supports, individualized home supports, individually directed goods and services, interpreter, nutrition, parenting support, personal emergency response systems, personal support, senior supports, specialized medical equipment and supplies, transportation and vehicle modifications.

Employment and Day Supports Waiver

Targets young adults transitioning from school to work with similar services as the other DDS waivers. Provides adult day health, community based day support options, respite, supported employment, independent support broker, behavioral support, individual goods and services, individualized day support, interpreter, specialized medical equipment and supplies and transportation.

Early Childhood Autism Waiver

Serves three- and four-year-olds with autism. Services provided are an ABA-certified clinician and a life skills coach.

Autism Waiver

Serves individuals ages three and older with an IQ of greater than 70. Services are provided in the person’s own home or family home. Provides community companion homes, live-in companion, respite, assistive technology, clinical behavioral support, community mentor, individuals good and services, interpreter, job coaching, life skills coach, non-medical transportation, personal emergency response systems, social skills group and a specialized driving assessment for individuals.

For more information about DDS waivers, please visit:

Medicaid Waiver Financial Eligibility


All of the Medicaid waivers have a gross income limit of 300% of the base Supplemental Security Income (SSI) rate. The 300% amount of SSI, effective January 1, 2015, is $2,199 a month for a single individual. This figure is a gross income-eligibility test. No adjustment to income is allowed. If gross income is less than the limit, the requirement is met. If income exceeds the limit, the client is ineligible for a Medicaid waiver.


Medicaid waivers have two asset limits, dependent on the age and disability status of the applicant. If the client has eligibility based on elder status (over 65), disability (age 18 – 64), or blindness, the asset limit is $1,600. If the client is a child (under 18), the asset limit of $1,000 is used. Only the recipient’s assets are considered. Clients with excess assets are ineligible for services until the month that assets are reduced to within the asset limit.

Assets and the Community Spouse

The spouse of a client approved for a Medicaid waiver program becomes what is called the Medicare Catastrophic Care Act (MCCA) Community Spouse. As part of the initial eligibility determination, any assets held either individually or jointly are deemed to be available using the criteria below. Once eligibility is established for the institutionalized (waiver) spouse, the deeming ceases. The MCCA Community Spouse is allowed half of all assets, subject to a minimum and maximum. For 2014, the minimum amount protected for the community spouse was $23,448 and the maximum is $117,240. These amounts increase to $23,844 and $119,220 for 2015.

Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) Waiver

Serves persons with serious mental illness who otherwise require nursing facility level of care with the goal of keeping the person in the community rather than a nursing home. Waiver services complement and/or supplement services available to participants through the Medicaid State Plan and other federal, state and local public programs, as well as natural supports that families and communities provide.

For more information about the DMHAS waiver, please visit: