Being on a waiting list for community-based services may be evidence enough that an individual with developmental disabilities is at risk for institutionalization in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In a statement of interest filed this month, the Justice Department said that if individuals with developmental disabilities are not receiving services in the community, they may have a claim that their rights have been violated.

“Non-institutionalized individuals with disabilities who are not currently receiving state-funded home- and community-based services may bring a claim that a public entity has placed them at risk of institutionalization or segregation in violation of the ‘integration mandate’ of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” the federal filing indicates.

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“Individuals with disabilities need not wait until they are institutionalized to assert a claim,” the Justice Department said.

The move comes in a case filed earlier this year against the state of Ohio by Disability Rights Ohio on behalf of residents with developmental disabilities living in institutions or at risk of such placement.

Those suing in the case known as Ball v. Kasich allege that Ohio’s disability service system violates the ADA by offering immediate institutional placements, but imposing years-long waits for those seeking community-based offerings.

Under the ADA, individuals with disabilities are entitled to access services in the most integrated setting possible.

Ohio officials have disputed claims from those on waiting lists who say that they are at risk for institutionalization arguing that their allegations are only viable if their circumstance is caused by a “state action or a change in state policy.”

The Justice Department, however, said that the manner in which a state administers its disability programs — including a continuous denial of services — may be sufficient to suggest that individuals are at risk of institutionalization.

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