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State Benefits Ordered For Man With Severe Epilepsy

Rejecting the position of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, a South Florida appeals court Wednesday said a man with a severe form of epilepsy is eligible for benefits under a state home- and community-based services program.

The man, identified in the case by the initials M.T., suffers from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which is a severe form of epilepsy that can cause impaired intellectual functioning, according to the ruling by a panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal.

The man's mother applied for services through a program administered by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. Tests administered at age 21 showed the man's IQ level as low as 61.

The agency turned down the application for the program, saying that applicants are required to provide scores from IQ tests administered before age 18, Wednesday's ruling said.

But the appeals court overturned the agency's decision, at least in part because of evidence that a physician made a written diagnosis of "mental retardation" when M.T. was age 14.

"That diagnosis was established, and thus 'manifested,' before M.T. was 18," said the nine-page ruling, written by Judge Vance Salter and joined by judges Kevin Emas and Ivan Fernandez. "In its definition of intellectual disability, the Legislature did not impose a requirement that an applicant for the … program provide an IQ test administered before the applicant turned 18."