T.H. was a fifty-five year old man who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, a developmental disability. T.H. was cared for by his parents his entire lifetime. After T.H.’s parents died, T.H.’s family applied for services on his behalf pursuant to N.J.S.A. 30:4-25.2 from the Division of Developmental Disabilities (“DDD”). DDD staff interviewed T.H. and his family. Finding a “paucity of documentation” concerning T.H.’s developmental history, and noting that most of the history derived from “anecdotal” accounts by T.H. and his family, DDD determined that T.H. was ineligible for services because he showed no evidence of substantial functional limitations in three major life areas prior to the age of twenty-two, as required under N.J.A.C. 10:46-1.3.

T.H. challenged the decision. An administrative judge and the Appellate Division of the Superior Court affirmed the denial of benefits. The NJ Supreme Court reversed, awarding DDD services and other benefits to T.H. The Court held that there is no statutory requirement that an applicant for services develop substantial functional limitations in three major life areas before age 22, and DDD’s contrary interpretation, codified in N.J.A.C. 10:46-1.3, exceeded its authority and is invalid. In addition, the Court found it to be arbitrary and inappropriate to reject the eyewitness testimony of family members as anecdotal.

A copy of the T.H. vs. DDD case can be found here – T.H. v. Division of Developmental Disabilities