About this Manual

This manual will serve as your guide. While it will not answer every question, or solve every situation regarding personal allowance, it will provide you with some guidance on the following:

  • What personal allowance is
  • How personal allowance should be spent
  • Calculating the amount of personal allowance a person should receive
  • Becoming familiar with the personal allowance rules

If you have additional questions, contact your local Financial Benefits & Entitlements Assistance & Management (FBEAM). Personal allowance training opportunities are listed in the Statewide Learning Management System.


OPWDD regulations in 14 NYCRR 633.15 define personal allowance as:

“…that portion of income which is made available on a monthly basis to every person residing in a facility operated or certified by OPWDD which is intended for the personal expenditure by an individual.”

Every person with a developmental disability who resides in a facility operated or certified by OPWDD, and who has a monthly income, keeps part of their income to spend on their personal, luxury and recreational choices. The remainder of their monthly income is used to cover the costs of room and board.

The allowance amount varies based on the person’s living arrangement and income and may have several components depending on individual circumstances. Only people with income are entitled to a personal allowance.   

Personal allowance regulations apply to all residential settings certified or operated by OPWDD. They also apply to non-residential programs that handle the personal allowance of individuals residing in the following residential settings:

  • Agency Sponsored and State Operated Family Care (FC)
  • Voluntary and State Operated Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs)
  • Voluntary and State Operated Individualized Residential Alternatives (IRAs) and Community Residences (CRs)
  • Developmental Centers (DC) and Small Residential Units (SRU)
  • OPWDD Certified Schools and Specialty Hospitals

People who reside in certified residences and have a representative payee other than the Executive Director of the residential agency are entitled to a personal allowance. However, the representative payee is not bound by the personal allowance regulations. If the representative payee turns over funds to be managed by the residential agency, the residential agency must manage the funds and follow OPWDD personal allowance regulations.

DDSOOs and voluntary agencies may establish more restrictive personal allowance policies as long as they comply with OPWDD personal allowance regulations.


OPWDD believes that all people with developmental disabilities can advocate for themselves and make decisions related to spending their personal allowance. Personal allowance funds are supposed to be used for personal, luxury, and recreational wants that enhance a person’s quality of life. Personal allowance spending must benefit the person and reflect their individual choices. 

There are three guiding principles behind the purpose and use of personal allowance:

  • Choice
  • Personal benefit
  • Community involvement 

Choice is important. People should choose how they spend their money to the greatest extent possible.

Items and services people buy with their money must personally benefit them. It should not be for the benefit or convenience of their providers, agencies, family or friends, or OPWDD. The items that people buy with their personal allowance are theirs to do with as they see fit.

OPWDD promotes increased community involvement for people with developmental disabilities. People should participate in the community as much as they would like.