Frequently Asked Questions
Understanding the Parts

1) What is a Developmental Disability?
2) What is Self Determination?
3) What are the principles of Self Determination?
4) What is a Medicaid Service Coordinator?
Questions 5) What is CSS (Consolidated Support Services)?
6) What is a Circle of Support?
7) What is a Start-up Broker (SUB)?
8) What is a Support Broker?
9) What is an ISP (Individualized Services Plan)?

Getting Started

10) Is Self Determination a good match for you?
11) How do you begin Self Determination?

More Information

12) Where can I go to have questions answered about disability services and support?
13) Do you have employment related questions? How can ACCES-VR help?
14) What is an independent living center?

Understanding the Parts
1. What is a developmental disability?

“Developmental disability means a disability of a person which:

(a) (1) is attributable to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, neurological impairment, familial dysautonomia or autism;
(2) is attributable to any other condition of a person found to be closely related to mental retardation because such condition results in similar impairment of general intellectual functioning or adaptive behavior to that of mentally retarded persons or requires treatment and services similar to those required for such person; or
(3) is attributable to dyslexia resulting from a disability described in subparagraph (1) or (2) of this paragraph;
(b) originates before such person attains age twenty-two;
(c) has continued or can be expected to continue indefinitely; and
(d) constitutes a substantial handicap to such person’s ability to function normally in society.”
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2. What is Self-determination?

Self-determination is knowing more about oneself; having dreams and goals and going after them; being in control; making one’s own decisions; having a choice; spending money in one’s own way.
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3. What are the principles of Self-Determination?

Freedom…to plan a real life

The ability for a person with a disability, along with freely chosen family and friends, to plan their own lives, with necessary support, rather than purchase a program

Authority…over your resources

The ability of a person with a disability to control a certain sum of dollars in order to purchase supports.

Support…for building a life in your community

The arranging of resources and personnel-both formal and informal- that will assist a person with a disability to live a life in the community that is rich in social associations and contributions.

Responsibility…to give back to your community

The acceptance of a valued role in a person’s community through competitive employment, organizational affiliations, spiritual development and general caring for others, as well as accountability for spending public dollars in ways that are life enhancing.
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4. What is a Medicaid Service Coordinator (MSC)?

An MSC is a Medicaid State Plan Service provided by OPWDD who is professionally trained and experienced and assists a person with a developmental disability in exploring and securing the necessary supports and services they need. Their role includes advocating, planning, connecting to individualized supports and services and record keeping.
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5. What is CSS (Consolidated Support Services)?

This is a Medicaid funded program through OPWDD for individuals who are Medicaid and HCBS (Home and Community Based Services) waiver eligible. Individuals must have an MSC. CSS offers an opportunity to design services based on an individual’s desires and needs as identified in a Person Centered Plan. The person and their support system manage the use of funds.
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6. What is a Circle of Support?

A Circle is central to self-determination and the creating of a plan. It is a voluntary group of people made up of people from one’s everyday life whom you trust and can depend on. The Circle must include the Medicaid Service Coordinator and a Start-up Broker. It can also include family, friends, co-workers, agency people, and others you know in the community.
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7. What is a Start-up Broker (SUB)?

A SUB is a trained professional who assists people with developmental disabilities in completing an application for CSS including helping develop a Circle of Support, developing a Person Centered Plan, identifying the supports and services one will need, and creating an individualized budget to pay for the supports.
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8. What is a Support Broker?

A Support Broker assists a person with developmental disabilities to self-direct the services and supports he/she receives. The Support Broker provides maintenance support for the duration of the CSS plan to ensure its implementation and Medicaid compliance.
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9. What is an ISP (Individualized Services Plan)?

An Individualized Services Plan profiles a person and his/her desired outcomes and safeguards needed to be put into place. It identifies natural supports and community resources to help the person have a successful life in the community.
Getting Started
10. Is Self-determination a good match for you?

To enroll in Self-determination an individual will have to have a clear idea about his or her major life goals. You should know how, where, and with whom you want to live. What work, volunteer, or other activities interest you. How you want to spend your free time. You with the support of your Circle of Support need to be willing to take on more self-direction, take more control over your life and take on more responsibility.
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11. How do you begin Self-determination?

If you are eligible for services (see above) and have identified your dream or goal, contact your local DDSO Self-determination liaison. They will help connect you to a Start up Broker who can help you build a circle of support, develop a person centered plan, identify the supports and services that you need, and create an individualized budget to pay for your supports and services.

If you live in Westchester, Rockland , Orange or Sullivan counties your liaison is Marie Yizar. Her number is 914-947-8961.

If you live in Putnam, Dutchess, Ulster, Columbia or Greene counties your liaison is Richard Schmidt. His number is 845-473-5050 x. 156

A directory of Start-up brokers is also available by calling OPWDD 518-474-5647.
More Information
12. Where can I go to have questions answered about disability services and support?

You can visit or for more information on a variety of topics (health, housing benefits, transportation, employment, civil rights…)
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13. Do you have employment related questions? How can ACCES-VR help?

ACCES-VR can help with:

  • Being evaluated for a job
  • job coaching
  • paying for college expenses on your path to a job
  • transportation to a job
  • driver education training

Contact your local ACCES-VR office:

Columbia/Greene Counties: Hudson ACCES-VR: 518-473-8097
Dutchess County: Mid-Hudson ACCES-VR: 845-452-5325
Orange County: Mid Hudson ACCES-VR: 845-346-4260
Putnam County: Mid Hudson ACCES-VR: 845-425-5325
Rockland County ACCES-VR: 845-426-5410
Sullivan County: Mid Hudson ACCES-VR: 845-346-4260
Ulster County: Mid Hudson ACCES-VR 845-339-4270
Westchester County ACCES-VR: 914-946-1313

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14. What is an independent living center?

An Independent Living Center (ILC) is a consumer controlled, community based, non-residential, non-profit center which is available to all people with disabilities promoting self-help, equal access, peer role modeling, personal growth and empowerment. For information and referral or other assistance contact your local ILC below:

Columbia County:518-828-4886
Dutchess County:845-452-3913
Greene County: information about ILCs   518-474-2925
Orange County:845-565-1162
Putnam County:845-228-7457
Rockland County: 845-624-1366
Sullivan County:845-794-4228
Ulster County: 845-331-0541
Westchester County: WILC914-682-3926
Westchester County: WDOM 914-968-4717
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Self Determination Project at Westchester Institute for Human Development, last updated 2010 | 1.877.810.2422
In partnership between the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, and WIHD