Understanding the Self-Directed Employee Option

November 17, 2017

The Self-Directed Employee (SDE) or “self-hire” option allows people receiving services from the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) to recruit, hire and train employees to provide certain types of supports and services.

SDEs or self-hires are identified directly by the individual and/or family members, or another person authorized to represent them, such as their Support Coordinator.

Participants in both the DDD Supports Program and the Community Care Waiver have the option to self-hire. The individual or their representative (such as a guardian or support coordinator) is the managing employer and is responsible for all aspects of the employment process, including hiring, creating a job description, ensuring training requirements are met, determining the hours worked and supervising the employee.

Steps to Hiring Self-Directed Employees

In order to hire self-directed employees, the needed services must be identified using a document called the Person-Centered Planning Tool (PCPT). The PCPT is used to assess individual needs and preferences. It is developed with the help of the person’s support coordinator, with input by the individual and other members of the team, such as the person’s family.

Next, using the PCPT as a guide, the person’s Individual Service Plan (ISP) is created. The ISP includes the types of division-funded supports the person will utilize, according to their individual budget.

In New Jersey, individual budget amounts are determined by the person’s “tier assignment” for either the Supports Program or the Community Care Waiver. An individual’s tier is determined through an assessment process called the New Jersey Comprehensive Assessment Tool (NJCAT) and is tied to a specific dollar amount.

After the ISP is developed by the team and submitted to and approved by DDD, the person can begin the process of hiring employees for the services identified in the ISP.

What Services can a Self-Directed Employee Perform?

Individuals can use a SDE for services including individual supports, respite and transportation. The support coordinator will work with the individuals and their families to develop a job description and determine if a potential SDE can perform the duties required by the position.

Self-directed employees can be found with the help of support coordinators, other individuals such as family members or DDD’s provider database.

Enrollment with the Fiscal Intermediary (FI)

Individuals who self-hire their employees work with a Fiscal Intermediary (FI) to manage employment-related functions such as timesheets, compensation, tax withholding, and compliance with labor laws. The two main functions of the FI are to be the payer of services and the employer of record.

Individuals who self-hire will receive an enrollment packet from PPL.This packet will contain the forms necessary for the individual to register as an employer and appoint the FI as the agent for employment-related matters. The FI will assist the individual in completing these forms and will collect and process the documents with the appropriate federal and New Jersey agencies to enroll the SDE.

The fiscal intermediary provides the individual with an orientation curriculum which describes the services the FI provides and its role and responsibilities, the process by which the FI ensures the SDE is qualified to deliver the service, and the roles, responsibilities, and rights of the individual as well as the SDE.

For more detailed information on the SDE process, refer to DDD’s Policy and Procedures Manual for either the Supports Program or the Community Care Waiver. They provide participants of each program with a description of available services and supports, the process of developing the Individual Service Plan, and detailed information about hiring SDEs and the roles of the support coordinator and fiscal intermediary.

Note: The State of New Jersey is in the process of transferring existing DDD clients who self-direct their services to its new fiscal intermediary, Public Partnerships, LLC (PPL). In response to some issues that individuals were experiencing with the transition, PPL modified its enrollment process for SDE participants and their employees, which included assigning an enrollment specialist to schedule appointments with participants to complete the enrollment process. A presentation by PPL to the New Jersey Family Support Planning Council addresses the obstacles and provides customer service information for participants. In addition, DDD announced in September that an option for individuals dually enrolled in both the DDD Self-Directed Employee (SDE) Option and the DDS Personal Preference Program (PPP) to defer the transition to PPL would be extended to February 1, 2018. DDD is currently in the process of transferring those who opted out of the extension for dual enrollees, and PPL will send those individuals a welcome packet with timesheets for each SDE they employ.