Being a parent of a child with a mental illness often means continuing to assist with supporting his or her well-being during adulthood.  However, there can be situations when the severity of a child’s condition does not fully manifest until they are much older.  This situation can be problematic for aging parents who have not had time to plan for their adult child.  However, having some idea of how to prepare when your adult child has a late-onset mental illness is critical for the future.

Understanding the Condition

In many cases, an adult with a late-onset mental illness is triggered by an experience. A traumatic life event could cause someone with an illness such as depression to have intense and extreme symptoms.  Life stressors could also invoke psychosis or a condition such as schizoaffective disorder.  The first step is getting your child in to see a qualified professional who can determine if his or her state is temporary or expected to persist.  From there you can formulate more of an idea of their needs going forward.

Government Assistance

When an individual is diagnosed with a significant mental illness and has a lengthy history of symptoms which have kept them from being independent, he or she may be eligible for public benefits. Programs such as Medi-Cal (California Medicaid) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) are often essential supports for people in this situation.  An adult who has managed to remain meaningfully employed may qualify for SSDI (Social Security Disability Income) from their work record.  In most cases, adults who are unable to work will need these kinds of benefits to meet their needs.  Applying for and getting qualified for these programs can take a long time. Further, it is not unusual for an applicant to be denied the first time he or she applies and then qualify later when the right evidence is provided.  The sooner you begin gathering essential information and documentation for your adult child’s application, the better.  If your adult child has not started the application process, it will be important to do so as soon as possible.

Special Needs Trust Planning

Another critical step to take is to set up a California special needs trust.  This unique type of trust allows parents and other loved ones to provide funding for a disabled individual’s extra expenses without endangering their income-sensitive public benefits.  It is important to note that how the trust is created can have significant implications.  Further, there are specific restrictions on how the trust disbursements can be used and how payment is made to the beneficiary.

When an adult child has a late-onset severe mental illness, it can come as a shock to parents.  However, by taking the right actions, you can put the proper measures in place, and have the peace of mind of knowing your child’s needs will be met now and in the future.   At the Law Office of Alice Salvo, we have experience helping parents plan for adult children and their future care. Schedule a consultation today to explore your options so you can make informed decisions for your child. /