Volume XXXI, Number 4
April 2016

Supported Decision-Making Agreement Act

DADS issued information letter 16-13 to inform providers of the Supported Decision-Making Agreement Act (“Act”), and to encourage its implementation. The Texas Legislature amended the Estates Code through House Bill (H.B.) 39 and Senate Bill (S.B.) 1881, (84th Legislature, Regular Session, 2015) by adding the Supported Decision-Making Agreement Act.

The Act provides adults with disabilities who need assistance with understanding choices to make their own decisions an option that is less restrictive than guardianship. With the help of a “supporter”, an individual can make an informed decision about where and with whom to live, where to work, and what services, supports or medical and mental care they want.

Who is an adult with a disability? Under this law, an adult with a disability is:

  • an individual 18 years old or older, or an individual under 18 years old who the law considers to be an adult; and
  • who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

Who is a supporter?
A supporter is a person who has made a “supported decision-making agreement” with an adult with a disability to help the adult gather information and communicate their life decisions. A person cannot be a supporter if the State of Texas decides the person has abused, neglected or exploited the adult. A supporter can decide to stop being a supporter at any time. The adult can choose a different supporter at any time.

What is a supported decision-making agreement?
The law allows an adult with a disability and a supporter to have a supported decision-making agreement that states how the supporter will help the adult communicate life decisions. Although there is no mandated form, the Act requires the adult and supporter to sign the agreement in the presence of:

  • two witnesses who are at least 14 years old and who also sign the agreement; or
  • a notary public.

What does a provider need to know if an adult has a supporter?
A supporter is different from a legal guardian appointed by a court. A supporter cannot force an adult with a disability to make a decision or make a decision on behalf of an adult with a disability. A supporter can only help an individual gather information, consider options, and communicate the decision. The person with a disability retains the exclusive right to make these decisions.

When an individual has chosen a supporter and has a supported decision-making agreement, the individual may give a copy of the agreement to the provider if the individual wants the supporter involved in making decisions related to any services provided by the provider.

If a supporter is gathering information for an adult, the supporter must have the adult’s written consent to get the information. For example, a provider may have confidential information about an individual such as medical information, school records, and Medicaid case records. A supporter may have access to this information only with written consent of the individual. In providing a supporter with access to confidential information, a provider should follow its usual practice for releasing an individual’s confidential information to another person. For information on confidential personal health information and the Health Insurance and Portability Accountability Act, a provider may visit the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) website HERE.

A supporter must ensure that the information from the provider is kept confidential and cannot release the information to anyone without the consent of the adult with a disability. A supported decision-making agreement does not prevent an adult with a disability from seeking confidential information on his or her own without the assistance of the supporter.

If the provider has knowledge of a supported decision making agreement in which the adult with a disability states he or she wants the supporter to assist him or her with decisions about services, the provider must ask the individual if he or she wants the supporter invited to service-planning meetings or other meetings that are convened by the provider. The individual may include in the agreement that the supporter will attend such meetings.

DADS has developed an explanation of supported decision-making. DADS encourages providers and service coordinators to provide a written copy of the explanation to each individual served. DADS also has a template for a Supported Decision-Making Agreement to provide to an individual who is interested in establishing an agreement.

As a reminder, if a provider suspects any person, including a supporter, is abusing an individual the provider must report it by calling the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400 or report it online HERE.  If the person with a disability is living in a nursing home or receives services from a Home and Community Support Services Agency (HCSSA), the call is made to 1-800-458-9858. A complaint can also be made using DADS complaint website. Providers may use the self-reporting website.

For a copy of DADS information letter, explanation of supported decision-making, and template for a Supported Decision-Making Agreement CLICK HERE.

President’s Report

 Legislative Update

Commitment to Care


If you have any questions about the THCA Commitment to Care Initiative or would like to share your facilities successes please contact Gloria Bean-Williams by email or call (512) 458-1257.

State / THCA News

  • Supported Decision-Making Agreement Act

National / AHCA News

Announcements & Recognition


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Ron Payne,

Mark McKenzie,

Gina Muniz,

Scot Kibbe,

Region News



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