Young Adults

Turning Eighteen

  1. If you have a child turning 18, you need to apply for disability before he/she turns 19. Your child is currently enrolled on Medicaid as a child (under the age of 19) who is receiving waiver services. The age limit for this type of Medicaid is 19 years of age. When the child turns 19, Medicaid will automatically be cancelled unless there is a disability determination from DDS (Medicaid Disability Determination) or Social Security.   The Social Security Administration’s August 2016 Publication – “What You Need to Know About Your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) When You Turn 18.”
  2. You can file an SSI application on his behalf the month after he/she turned 18. Or if you do not want to apply for SSI benefits, you can request DDS for a determination from them.
  3. Tips:
    1. Apply for SSI – Fill out the online disability report to get the process started; and
    2. Schedule an appointment with a Social Security representative to complete the process. If you do not wish to fill out the online disability report, contact SSA for an appointment. To make an appointment, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday or contact your local Social Security office.
    3. Take the first available appointment, even if you have to take time off work or pull your child out of school. By all means make an appointment and don’t just show up at your local SSA office. My local SSA office was a mob scene the day of my son’s appointment…the line of people without appointments went out the door and didn’t seem to move. Worse than the DMV. If that’s the scene on the day of your appointment, tell the guard that you have an appointment and they’ll walk you to the front of the line to check in.
    4. Bring all relevant medical records.
    5. The SSA will not process your application unless you have set up a representative payee account so benefits can be deposited electronically. Open a representative payee bank account before your appointment. If your bank doesn’t know how to do this, show them page 13 of SSA’s guide for representative payees. Bring the name/address of the bank, routing number, and account number to your appointment. Better yet, have the bank fill out a direct deposit form for you if possible, and bring that to your appointment at the SSA.
    6. If your child has any assets, bring current bank/brokerage statements, copies of savings bonds, and any other proof of the current value of the assets. If you say that your child has assets but don’t bring proof of their value, the SSA will hold off on processing your application until you provide proof. Remember that a Medicaid recipient can have no more than $2,000 of assets in his or her name.”


  1. Secondary School:
    1. Individuals with IEPs are eligible to stay in the school system until the age of 22.
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  2. Post-Secondary Programs:
    1. VCU’s Center on Transition Innovations – The VA Dept. of Education and VCU have created a statewide resource for teachers, parents, and students on the topic of transition. There are practical tips, evidence-based practices, and information on projects, as well as training on transition topics including employment and independent living.
    2. ACE-IT in College – “There are several program-based college options offered in Virginia; however, information is unclear about the usage of inclusive, individualized, supported education models with students with Intellectual and other developmental disabilities on Virginia’s two and four-year campuses. Through a federal grant, the Partnership and the Rehabilitation Research & Training Center are supporting Virginia Commonwealth University students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (aged 18- 26) in a 30-month inclusive, individualized college experience – students leave with a certificate.”
    3. GMU – Mason LIFE – “an innovative post-secondary program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who desire a university experience in a supportive academic environment. The mission of the Mason LIFE Program is a dual purpose. The first is to provide a supportive academic environment for our students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The second is to supply an apprenticeship for George Mason University students. The Mason LIFE Program presents our George Mason students opportunities such as: instructor, resident adviser, internship, practicum, independent study, field work, mentor, Best Buddy, and volunteer to gain important experiences and knowledge to work successfully with students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”


  1. I’m Determined – Yearly summit in Virginia.
  2. Youth Leadership Academy (via VBPD) – “The program seeks to empower young people with disabilities to further develop their leadership skills. Students from communities throughout Virginia, participate in a wide range of activities and learning experiences during the four day Youth Leadership Academy set on a university campus.” For rising Juniors and Seniors (returning to high school for at least one year)
  3. Guardianship vs. Supported Decision-Making vs. Power of Attorney |  Supported Decision-Making as an Alternative to Guardianship Video Series
  4. Know Your Rights – a visual chart
  5. Young Adult Participation – Person-Centered Planning Process
  6. Transition Steps by Elsie Gladding
  7. Personal Leadership Plan: A Path to Success! (in three months increments)

Other Great Resources

  1. Youth Resource Alliance
  2. The National Council on Independent Living Youth Blog
  3. Special Needs Trusts – “The purpose of SNTs is to enable people with disabilities to derive the greatest possible benefit from family money, financial settlements, financial, gifts, and other awards of money and assets, in addition to any public benefits and services to which they have entitlement.”
  4. The Center for Parent Information and Resources “serves as a central resource of information and products to the community of Parent Training Information (PTI) Centers and the Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs), so that they can focus their efforts on serving families of children with disabilities. The CPIR places “user-centered processes” at its core. Because PTIs and CPRCs are the main focus of our work, the CPIR is designed to gather Parent Center perspectives at each step along the way.”