A substantial disability is a major impairment of cognitive and/or social functioning that requires interdisciplinary planning and coordination of services to help you reach your maximum potential. The law says you must have one of the five eligible conditions discussed above, and it must be a substantial disability for you in three or more of these major life areas:Section 4512(a).
- Communication (receptive and expressive)
- capacity for independent living
- economic self-sufficiency.Title 17, Cal. Code Regs., section 54001(a).
No matter which disability you have for regional center, you must show it results in a substantial disability. A substantial disability is “a major impairment of cognitive and/or social functioning.”Title 17, Cal. Code Regs., section 54001. This means you are substantially disabled by a major problem with either:
- Your cognitive functioning (your thinking, your intellect), or
- Your social functioning (how you relate to others).
You do not have to prove both.
Many people with autism have major problems interacting socially. They may not have problems with their thinking. They may score high on intelligence tests. But, if they prove their social skills are majorly impaired by autism, they may have a substantial disability and be eligible for regional center services.
According to the law, substantially disabling conditions require “interdisciplinary planning” and the “coordination of services” to help you “reach your maximum potential.”Title 17, Cal. Code Regs., section 54001(a).
“Interdisciplinary planning” means you need the services of different people such as teachers, psychologists, medical doctors, social workers, and rehabilitation counselors. You do not have to show you need all of these. You do have to show you need help from several different kinds of people, working together.
“Coordination of services” means you need someone to make sure the different services you get, work together to help you. The agency to coordinate the services you need may be the regional center. The regional center staff are called, “service coordinators.” Service coordinators help you:
- get services from other agencies (Social Security, schools, hospitals, health care providers, or the Department of Rehabilitation)
- find somewhere to live
- be safe
- keep track of your money
- take care of your personal needs
These are called lifetime case management services. If you need this kind of help, this is service coordination and interdisciplinary planning. If you need this kind of help, you may have a substantial disability that qualifies for regional center services. The law says you should use interdisciplinary planning and coordination of services to “reach your maximum potential.” This means your services should help you be the most you can be, not just a little better than you are now. Service coordination and planning can help you reach your long-term life goals and dreams. Think of what you want to do with your life and what help you need to do it.