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What happens when a disabled child turns 18?

12/12/2022 | Conservatorship

As disabled children turn 18, their dependency on various resources for support does not stop.

California offers many programs to assist qualifying disabled young adults. The state identifies disabled adults as people who can not perform any substantial gainful activity because of mental or physical impairment.

Reclassification as an adult provides new opportunities for financial support

Disabled children under 18 may qualify for state financial support if their parents meet the income limitations. However, these income restrictions prevent many families from qualifying for financial assistance. Fortunately, when disabled children turn 18 years old, the Social Security Administration no longer assesses the parents’ income for eligibility. Those who did not qualify before may now receive supplemental disability income and state-sponsored health insurance.

Extended school programs provide additional learning opportunities

While most young adults graduate high school after four years, disabled adults can continue in a transition program until age 22. These programs teach independence and life skills. After age 22, lower functioning adults can benefit from day programs while more advanced adults can participate in job training. Many of these programs have extensive waiting lists and require advanced planning.

A legal conservatorship gives parents control

When children turn 18, they become legally independent, and parents can not make decisions for them. However, not all disabled adults are capable of making informed decisions. Parents can file a petition for legal conservatorship, which allows them to make legal decisions on behalf of their adult child.

Being aware of the services available for disabled young adults ensures they have an opportunity to live their best life.