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Your Rights in Ohio’s DD System & Beyond

Bill of Rights

In Ohio’s DD system, people have undeniable rights within the services and support they receive. These include:

  • The right to be treated at all times with courtesy and respect and with full recognition of their dignity and individuality

  • The right to an appropriate, safe, and sanitary living environment that complies with local, state, and federal standards and recognizes the persons' need for privacy and independence

  • The right to food adequate to meet accepted standards of nutrition

  • The right of timely access to appropriate medical or dental treatment

  • The right of access to necessary ancillary services, including, but not limited to, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and behavior modification and other psychological services

  • The right to receive appropriate care and treatment in the least intrusive manner

  • The right to communicate freely with persons of their choice in any reasonable manner they choose

  • The right of access to opportunities that enable people to develop their full human potential

  • The right to pursue vocational opportunities that will promote and enhance economic independence

  • The right to be treated equally as citizens under the law

  • The right to participate in appropriate programs of education, training, social development, and habilitation and in programs of reasonable recreation

  • The right to participate in decisions that affect their lives

  • The right to select a parent or advocate to act on their behalf

  • The right to voice grievances and recommend changes in policies and services without restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal

A full list of rights can be found within the Ohio Revised Code located here.

An easy read guide to the bill of rights for people with disabilities can be found here.

Appeals & Complaints

During your course of requesting and receiving services and supports from your local county board, you may not agree with a decision about what services you are able to receive or how the county board operates. You have the right to appeal Medicaid decisions and submit formal complaints. It is important to know the difference between the two and which one fits your situation.

Medicaid Appeals are used when you disagree with decisions made about your Medicaid services or supports. By appealing, another person/group reviews the situation to assure that a correct decision was made. Examples for when to use Medicaid appeals are:

  • You requested a special piece of equipment and Medicaid did not approve paying for it.

  • You requested a support (Nursing, Home and Community Based Services, etc) and Medicaid did not approve paying for it.

  • You are receiving a set amount of services and are told those services will be reduced or eliminated. (For example, you are using 25 hours of Home and Community Based Services and are informed that your amount will be reduced to 20 hrs a week.)

County Complaints are complaints involving the programs, services, policies, or administrative practices of a county board of developmental disabilities or an entity under contract with a county board of developmental disabilities. Examples of when to use County Complaints are:

  • You disagree with a policy that County Board of Developmental Disabilities has.

  • You believe you have been treated unfairly by a staff member

  • Your services and/or supports have not been provided well

Medicaid Appeals

If you disagree with a decision made to withhold, suspend, or reduce  services, you have the right to due process and to appeal the decision. The first step in the Medicaid appeals process is asking for a state hearing. At a state hearing, a hearing officer listens to you or your spokesperson to talk about why a decision made about your services might be wrong. They also listen to the agency (DODD or the County Board of DD) talk about why a decision was correct. After the hearing, the hearing officer will send their decision to you in the mail. They could agree with you in full or in part, or the hearing officer could find that the agency’s action is correct. If you disagree with the outcome of a state hearing, you can request an administrative appeal. If you disagree with the outcome of the administrative appeal, you can request a judicial review.

Click here to learn more about all the content below.

    • Your Rights During an Appeals Process

    • State Hearings

    • Getting Help from Your SSA

    • How to Ask for a Hearing

    • Hearing Notices

    • Preparing for a Hearing

    • What to Expect During a Hearing

    • Hearing Decision

    • Administrative Appeals

    • Administrative Appeal Decisions

    • Judicial Review 

County Complaints

Complaints Involving the Programs, Services, Policies, or Administrative Practices of a County Board of Developmental Disabilities

    • OAC: Resolution of complaints involving county boards of developmental disabilities and appeals of adverse action proposed or initiated by county boards of developmental disabilities.
    • Complaint or Appeal of Adverse Action Explanation Form
    • Filing a Complaint with a County Board of Developmental Disabilities
      • In instances where you have an issue with their county board, you have the right to file a complaint. The complaint could be about many things, including problems you be having with the county board’s administrative systems, services, policies, procedures, or programs. 
      • Complaints must be submitted in writing to the manager in charge of the policy, service, or program within 90 days of learning of the issue. The manager must do an investigation and he/she will discuss with you the complaint you have submitted. Managers have 15 days to respond in writing of the outcome of their investigation and must be willing to also discuss it with you.
      • Should you be unhappy with the result of the decision of the manager, you can submit another complaint directly to the Superintendent within 10 days of receiving the manager’s response. The Superintendent must discuss with you and review the complaint within 10 days of receiving your complaint. A formal response from the Superintendent must be provided to you within 15 days of receiving your complaint and an explanation for the decision must be included. 
      • Should you be unhappy with the result of the decision of the Superintendent, you can submit another complaint directly to the President of the local County Board of Disabilities within 10 days from receiving the Superintendent’s response. The president must schedule a hearing within 20 days of receiving your complaint. A formal response from the president of the county board must be provided to you within 15 days after the hearing (or 15 days after the committee or hearing officer’s recommendation is received.) Should you be unhappy with the result of the hearing, you can submit another complaint directly to the Director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities within 15 days from receiving the county board’s decision of the hearing.

Right to Free Appropriate Public Education

School districts are responsible for making sure that students who receive educational services as part of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) are provided a free appropriate public education (FAPE) and that state standards are met within the students’ educational programs. Sometimes, however, students are not provided the support they need, or an IEP team and family cannot agree on a plan for the student. In situations such as this, when schools and families disagree on an appropriate plan for a student’s needs and success, there is a dispute resolution process available with the Ohio Department of Education. In addition, families can also find support from the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities.

Advocating for Change

One of the greatest things you can do is be a voice for change. There are many ways to do this, but a couple to consider are:

  1.  The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) is seeking family members interested in participating in workgroups convened by DODD. If you have an interest in becoming part of a work group, please complete this DODD Workgroup Survey.

  2. Participate in legislative advocacy by talking to Ohio lawmakers about your ideas on how to improve Ohio’s DD system. It is important that Ohio lawmakers hear from families as they create or modify public policy. Your elected officials will make time for you to listen to ideas or concerns about the developmental disability-related policies in Ohio.

Additional Resources from Other Agencies: