Individual Budget and Spending Plan

The individual budget is the amount of regional center funding available to you to purchase the services, activities, and items you need to implement your PCP and IPP and ensure your health and safety. Your Individual Budget will not be increased to include the costs for the independent facilitator or the financial management service.

For current regional center consumers, the budget for Self-Determination Program participants will equal the amount the regional center spent on your services during the past 12 months. For a participant who is new to the regional center system or does not have 12 months of previous expenditures, the IPP team will determine the services and supports needed and available resources based on the average cost paid by the regional center for a similar person, unless the regional center determines that you have unique needs that require a higher or lower cost.

Requesting a Change in Your Individual Budget Amount

The IPP team can change your individual budget for either of the following reasons: :

  • There is a change in your circumstances, needs, or resources; or
  • There are prior needs or resources that were unmet in the IPP.

According to a DDS guidance, “Examples of when an adjustment to the individual budget amount may be necessary include, but are not limited to, recent/pending change in living situation; services received previously that are no longer needed; services included in the IPP were not used due to illness or lack of provider availability, thus no costs were incurred.”

The regional centers are required to “certify,” or guarantee that your final individual budget amount, including any changes, would have occurred regardless of whether you are in the SDP or in the traditional system. This is because the Self-Determination Program is required to be “cost neutral in the aggregate.” This means that overall, the whole program throughout the state should cost about the same as if those participants were still in the traditional system. This doesn’t mean that participants can’t increase their budget. It does mean that some participants may require an increase and others may spend less – but on the whole, it will even out.

If you disagree with your regional center on the amount of your individual budget, you will continue to have the same due process rights under The Lanterman Act. You can request a fair hearing and appear before an administrative law judge. And you can even ask an independent facilitator to help you advocate.

Spending Plan

Through person-centered planning, the SDP participant must develop a Spending Plan, which identifies the type and amount of all the needed services and supports to achieve your goals and ensure your health and safety. The spending plan must identify the cost of each service, activity, or item that will be purchased with your SDP budget. This includes the cost of the FMS, which is a required service for all SDP participants, and the independent facilitator. In addition to wages, costs for employee benefits, payroll taxes, and insurance must be included when determining the cost of each service. The total spending plan amount cannot exceed the individual budget amount. The spending plan will get attached to the IPP.

For more information on the development of the individual budget and how it can be changed, you can look at the DDS guidance on individual budgets.