Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (PAIDD)


Authorization: The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, 42 USC 15001, PL 106-402.


The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act provides for each State to establish a Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System to empower, protect, and advocate on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities. This system must be independent of service-providing agencies.

The P&As are authorized to provide information and referral services and to exercise legal, administrative and other remedies to resolve problems for individuals and groups of clients. The P&As are also required to reach out to members of minority groups that historically have been underserved. In addition to the PADD program, which serves people with developmental disabilities, the P&A also includes components mandated by several other Federal programs to serve people with disabilities and mental illness.

The PADD is mandated to:

  • investigate incidents of abuse and neglect and follow up reports of incidents, or investigate if there is probable cause to believe that such incidents have occurred; and
  • get access to all client records when provided with client or representative authorization, and to access records without such authorization when there is probable cause that abuse or neglect is involved.


Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI)


Authorization: The Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill Individuals Act,  42 USC 10801, PL 106-310.


The federal authority for protection and advocacy (P&A) systems to protect the legal rights of individuals with mental illnesses, including investigation of neglect and abuse, was revised. Public Law 106-310 creates an expanded role for the P&As to serve individuals living in the community (including at home) once the programs’ appropriation exceeds $30 million. Under the prior law, P&As were limited to assisting individuals in institutions or those recently discharged from an institution. That provision was a significant barrier to helping individuals in the community, such as children who need special education and related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or adults who are homeless or facing housing discrimination.

Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights (PAIR)


Authorization: The Rehabilitation Act,
29USC 794e, PL 106-402.


The Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights (PAIR) program supports the protection and advocacy system in each state to protect the legal and human rights of individuals with disabilities. To be eligible for advocacy services from the PAIR program, an individual with a disability must:

  1. be ineligible for the Protection and Advocacy of Developmental Disabilities (PADD) program funded under part C of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) because the individual does not have a “developmental disability” as defined in the DD Act;
  2. be ineligible for the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) program funded under the Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill Individuals Act because the individual is not an “individual with mental illness” as defined by the PAIMI Act and
  3. need services that are beyond the scope of services authorized to be provided by the Client Assistance Program (CAP) under section 112 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.

The Act requires each PAIR program to set annual priorities and objectives to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities in its state. Most PAIR programs set priorities and objectives related to assisting individuals with disabilities to secure accessible and affordable housing in the community and to reduce accessibility, communication and transportation barriers in the community. PAIR programs also increase the availability of supports enabling individuals with severe disabilities to participate freely in community life. Individuals with severe disabilities are to be involved in the development and implementation of the protection and advocacy system.


Protection and Advocacy for [Individuals in Need of] Assistive Technology (PAAT)


Authorization: The Assistive Technology Act,
29 USC 3011,3012, PL 105-394.


The PAAT program objective is to “assist individuals with disabilities and their family members, guardians, advocates and authorized representatives in accessing technology devices and assistive technology services” through case management, legal representation and self-advocacy training.


Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS)


Authorization:  The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act, 42 USC 1320b-20, PL 106-170

Provides protection and advocacy services to persons with disabilities who are  beneficiaries of Social Security.  The P&A assists these individuals with information and advice about obtaining vocational rehabilitation and employment services.  The P&A can also provide advocacy or other services that a disabled beneficiary may need to secure or regain gainful employment.

Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury (PATBI)


Authorization: The Children’s Health Act of 2000,  42 USC 300d-53, PL 106-310.

Provides protection and advocacy services for people with traumatic brain injuries.  The P&A assists these individuals with technical assistance and legal representation.

Protection and Advocacy for Voter Access (PAVA)


Authorization:  The Help America Vote Act of 2002,
42 USC 15461-62, PL 107-252.


This program  seeks to ensure full participation in the electoral process for individuals with disabilities, including registering to vote, casting a vote and accessing polling places.


Disability Benefits (DBP)


The Disability Benefit Project is a State-funded program providing assistance to disabled people who have Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims. Direct client assistance is provided by legal services offices across Massachusetts.

The SSI and SSDI programs are both administered by the Social Security Administration.

The SSI program provides cash assistance and medical benefits to persons who are disabled and whose medical condition keeps them from working, or are aged or statutorily blind. These benefits are provided to adults and children with limited income and resources.

The SSDI program provides cash assistance and medical benefits to disabled workers, widows and widowers. There are no financial requirements for SSDI benefits. SSDI recipients may also be eligible for some SSI benefits.


To apply for benefits simply visit your local Social Security Office. It may be helpful to call ahead for an appointment to avoid long waits. If you are unable to leave your home call your local Social Security Office and ask that a Claims Representative be sent to your home to complete an application. You may also ask to place a telephone application.


If your application for SSI is denied call the legal services office closest to your home. The offices are listed below. If you are not sure which office to Contact, call the Disability Law Center at (617) 723-8455, or 1-800-872-9992 (VOICE and TTY).

All of these offices are accessible.




DLC represents clients with disabilities who have been discriminated against because of their disability.

Priority issues incude discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation, child care facilities, and transportation.

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