The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

DDS Eligibility Decision by H.O. Silver 2010-2

Date: 
01/01/2010
Author: 
Elizabeth Silver

DDS Eligibility Decision by H.O. Elizabeth Silver 2010-2

Outcome: Ineligible

Keyword: PDD, distraction during testing, behavioral issues

Hearing Officer: Elizabeth Silver

Counsel present for Appellant: N/A

Counsel present for DDS: John C. Geenty, Jr.

Appellant present: Yes

Hearing Officer decision: 2010

Commissioner Howe letter: 2010

 

 

IQ

 

Year

Test

Age

Score

Diagnosis regarding MR in report (or info on disability affecting result of testing)

Vb.

Perf.

Full

2006

WAIS-III

18

77-87

79-93

77-85

Cognitive ability on the low average to borderline range. Index: Verbal 88-99; Perceptual 80-94; Working Memory 60-74; Processing Speed 63-81

1999

WISC-III

11

70

75

70

Difficulty with sustained effort; difficulty with expressing ideas; appeared distracted at times. VCI 73; POI 82; Ftd 64; PSI 58.

1996

WISC-III

8

65

69

70

Index: VCI 69, Perceptual Perf. 77, FfD 61, Speed of mental processing 88. Borderline range of overall cognitive abilities.

1992

Stanford-Binet (SB:FE)

4

 

 

87

Verbal reasoning 89; Abstract visual reasoning 98; Quantitative reasoning 92; Short-term memory 89.  Scores may have underestimated actual ability

 

FUNCTIONAL ABILITY

 

Year

TESTS

Age

Score

Diagnosis regarding MR in report, if any (or info on disability affecting result of testing)

2006

ABAS-II

 

 

Composite score not considered per regulations at the time.  Subset scores: Communication 6; Community Use 4; Functional Academics 4; Home Living 1; Health & Safety 1; Leisure 5; Self-care 1; Self-direction 2; Social 2

 

 

Issue is whether Appellant is mentally retarded as defined in 115 CMR 2.01 (a person with significantly sub-average intellectual functioning existing concurrently and related to significant limitations in adaptive functioning).

 

Appellant is a 21-year-old male.  At age of three or four Appellant was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, which was later confirmed and remains his diagnosis.  Appellant’s parents described him as able to manage in familiar settings but not in new environments, and explained that he is too trusting and does not understand money.  Appellant was enrolled in school and worked a few hours a week under the supervision of a job coach.  His mother argued that the school has been helpful but that he will require services when he reaches age 22.

 

Dr. Costigan testified as an expert for the Department.  While most of the tests confirmed that the Appellant’s working memory and processing speed were significantly impaired, the tests also showed his vocabulary and verbal skills to be in the average range.  Dr. Costigan testified that these verbal skills were most closely tied to overall IQ.  He explained that the discrepancies among the different tests were a result of the Appellant’s PDD, such that the low scores were attributable to impairments arising from PDD while the high scores were more representative of the Appellant’s cognitive functioning.  

 

The Hearing Officer found that the Appellant met the Department’s criteria for adaptive limitations. The remaining issue was whether the Appellant met the criteria of the cognitive prong for eligibility.  The Hearing Officer noted the range of results from the Appellant’s earliest evaluation.  The Hearing Officer found that behavioral issues interfered with the Appellant’s test-taking abilities, undermining the reliability of the two WISC-III.  Finally, the Hearing Officer noted that in the most recent test, the WAIS-III, the Appellant scored in the low average/borderline range of ability. 

 

The Hearing Officer found Dr. Costigan’s testimony persuasive and determined that the Appellant’s PDD distracted him and caused him to perform poorly on some tests but not others.  The Hearing Officer rejected the WISC-III test results and accepted the results from the other two tests where the Appellant was less distracted.  Based on those tests, the Hearing Officer found the Appellant does not have significantly sub-average intellectual functioning and therefore that the Appellant is not mentally retarded.  As such, the Appellant’s cognitive functioning exceeds the Department’s threshold and therefore he is ineligible for DDS services. 

 

 

To save files, right click and choose 'Save Target As' or 'Save Link As'
File Attachment: 
AttachmentSize
PDF icon 2010 - 2 Silver.pdf660.35 KB

Limit Offer