IncludeNYC logo

Key Terms for Self-Directed Services

October 19, 2021
Adult Life

Self-direction gives individuals flexibility, choice, and control over their goods, services, and supports. Learn some terms about this person-centered process. 

Broker: A Start-up Broker helps individuals develop their start-up self-direction budget. Once the start-up budget is approved, then the Support Broker helps the individual with person-centered planning, completing the self-direction budget and staffing. If the individual is receiving services like community habilitation, then the broker will complete the Staff Action Plan. 

Budget Authority: Gives the individual control over the money allocated from their Personal Resource Account for the self-direction budget to buy goods and services necessary to live in the community. This authority extends to choosing who will be paid to provide these goods and services. 

Developmental Disabilities Regional Office (DDRO): The regional offices of the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) are responsible for determining eligibility, conducting the Front Door intake process, and helping to coordinate and oversee programs, supports, and services within their region.

Employer Authority: Gives individuals the right to hire, manage, and change the staff employed to support them. Individuals can also determine how much their staff is paid.  

Fiscal Intermediary (FI): The FI works with the individual to implement payment and billing for approved goods and services identified in the self-direction budget. They also perform other tasks including initial budget review and amendments in addition to human resource activities, such as processing staff payroll.

Home and Community Based Services Waiver (HCBS): Under the HCBS waiver, Medicaid-funded supports and services for people with developmental disabilities enable them to live at home and remain engaged in their community. The federal government waives traditional state Medicaid income requirements, so that the Medicaid money may fund waiver services. The waiver is a grant that the state applies for with the federal government.

Individual Directed Goods and Services (IDGS): Funding provided through the IDGS part of the self-direction budget enables individuals to purchase goods and services. It can fund community classes and memberships. These goods and services must be associated with the Life Plan. It does not cover items that fall under the HCBS waiver or the Medicaid State Plan. 

Life Plan: A personal plan that the individual develops in collaboration with their care manager and the rest of their circle of support. It outlines their goals, support needs, strengths and preferences, services, providers, and safeguards. This is a living document that is person-centered and responsive to the individual’s needs. 

Other Than Personal Services (OTPS): Funding provided through the OTPS part of the self-direction budget enables individuals to use state funds for items not covered under Medicaid. Under OPWDD, the item should be associated with Life Plan and increase independence and/or health and safety. 

Personal Resource Account (PRA): The annual self-direction budget is developed based on the amount allocated in the PRA. This amount is based on a needs-assessment tool that is OPWDD approved and used to pay for goods and services identified in the budget. Self-Direction Liaisons: Each DDRO has a team of self-direction liaisons. These individuals perform a variety of tasks, including budget review and facilitating self-direction information sessions. They also provide support to individuals self-directing their services with employer and budget authority.


Robert Johnsen

(718) 430-0887


Stephenie Rozzell

(646) 766-3448


Deica Johnson

(718) 642-7024


Regine Petigny

(718) 217-5980

Staten Island

Margaret Varghese

(718) 982-1919