Disability, SSI

Helping Young People with Disabilities Successfully Transition to Adulthood

September 8, 2016 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: March 17, 2021

foster careThe transition to adulthood can be challenging, especially for young people with disabilities who come from low-income families and receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Social Security is with you through life’s journey, helping you secure today and tomorrow. Part of that commitment is creating a path for children with disabilities that leads to rewarding lives as adults.

More than a million children with significant disabilities receive SSI benefits. During the transition years — generally from ages 14 to 18 and beyond — young people with disabilities ideally gain the knowledge and skills they’ll need to achieve independence and self-sufficiency. They face significant challenges, as many of the resources and services available to young people with disabilities end when they leave the educational system or reach age 18 and are classified as adults. Turning 18 also triggers an important change in SSI benefits: Social Security must make a new determination on their SSI eligibility using the adult disability standards. About one-in-three such beneficiaries lose their SSI benefits.

It’s critical that young SSI beneficiaries nearing age 18 begin to prepare early. Social Security has policies, resources, and support in place to help, but many people don’t know about them. We recently implemented several new initiatives to help young people and their families prepare for this transition.

We developed a new brochure, What You Need to Know About Your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) When You Turn 18, describing key resources and information for young people receiving SSI. It explains the benefit re-determination at age 18 and special SSI work incentives for people participating in special education, Vocational Rehabilitation, or working while attending school.  It also includes information on Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts; health programs; and support from other places, such as American Job Centers. We’re mailing the brochure this month (and each year in the future) to all SSI recipients ages 14 to 17.

We also added a new section to the Red Book, Social Security’s guide to work incentives, consolidating information on programs and resources for young people to help with the transition from school to adulthood. We encourage young people who receive SSI  — and their parents, teachers, service providers, caregivers, or representatives — to use these materials to learn about the many programs and resources available for them.

Social Security also helps young people with disabilities who are about to leave foster care, often at age 18. When foster care ends, they may become eligible for SSI — but in the time period before SSI payments begin, they may be left without any means of support. On August 1, 2016, we expanded the early application period for people leaving foster care from 90 days ahead of the date they leave foster care to 180 days ahead, as a pilot test nationwide.  Starting an SSI application earlier allows for a smoother transition out of foster care for those eligible for SSI as adults.

We’re also active members of the Federal Partners in Transition workgroup, which develops strategies to promote successful youth transitions. You can visit our website to learn more about what we are doing for transition-age youth.

About Susan Wilschke, Deputy Associate Commissioner for
Research, Demonstration, and Employment Support

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  1. David S.

    Well, thank God for SSA. At 50 years of age, I lost the use of my legs and I must say thanks to the Social Security Administration. I would have ended up on the streets without a prayer for a future. I am waiting for them to get me a place to live. When that happens, I can go back to school and hopefully restart my life. Thank you USA. You rock.

  2. Barbara G.

    All laws or regulations are written with a “cookie-cutter” mentally , so it is like fitting a round peg in a square hole, and don’t work for most “average”people ” so they certainly don’t work for a person born with a rare disability ( probably 30 to 50,000 in US with OI disability)!!!

  3. Barbara G.

    What about foster parents (who raised a disabled from birth foster baby) and still have to jump thru hoops every 3 years to prove that said adult is still disabled? Do you think the progressive deformities are going to suddenly self cure and correct physical and medical birth defect ? Don’t you have access the all the medical bills that medicaid and medicare continually pay. At one point said child/adult was dropped from medicaid right before a very serious medical out of town surgery was scheduled at IU Med center, resulting in a cancellation and wait to get everything rescheduled after foster child was put back on Medicaid. You can not imagine the fights with gov. and gov mess ups we have gone thru in addition to 24 hour care needed for infant,child,adult……and it still continues. As a child we could always fight and get thru or over the brick wall, but as an uncured adult, one can’t now because medical gov. attitude is, “since no one was able to cure genetic problem in 18 years, said person might as well die so” we”(gov.) can save money or put someone else in his/her spot !!!! It is so sad and heart-breaking! All the PA’s the Specialist’s and we, write now are constantly denied, but are needed to prevent condition from becoming worse and more dibilatating! Now because we are retired & we do not have the monetary resourses or the health, to help said adult, like we used to be able to do! What will happen to said adult when we pass away…..who will be her advocate then. Birth parents have never stepped up to be active in said adult’s life!!!?

  4. tony

    There are parents collecting SSI for $733. They apply for SSI for their kids and get their kids to fake a mental illness and receive almost $500 per child with a mental illness. A couple of visits to the psychiatrist/psychologist and their kids will be diagnosed with autism, ADHD, OCD, etc. and then be able to collect the SSI.

    They get free Medicaid, food stamps, and Section 8 housing. They don’t have to spend their SSI money on these stuff, so the parents are able to buy brand new Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW. You go to the Section 8 projects and you see them driving these fancy cars with taxpayers money.

    • tony

      Social Security let these people rip off SSI. The only time the SSA got involved was when 300 family members from 4 generations were collecting SSI. The kids malingering a mental illness becomes an adult who malingering mental illness. They are not going to transition off SSI.

  5. Donna W.

    Every four years I have to jump through hoops to prove my children’s disabilities! I have 3 children with Autism! They are not going to out grow and diagnosed with M.R. I met a women with a Down syndrome child and she has to do the same! Do they think he is going to grow a chromosome? Puts a lot of unnecessary stress on the care givers having to prove over and over again what would be totally obvious if they made a home visit!

  6. Debbie, P.

    The right side of the article is cut off. Can it be republished with all of the words contained and readable? Thank you. I would like to share this with a friend who is in a position to need this information as soon as possible.

    • Jenna Y.

      Thank you for letting us know, Debbie. We have repaired the issue and apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused.

  7. Bonnie C.

    I didn’t get much out of the article because the right side is cut off.

    • Jenna Y.

      Thank you for your comment, Bonnie. We have repaired the issue and apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused.

  8. Muriel E.

    Your post cuts off many of the words on the right hand side making it difficult to read.

    • Jenna Y.

      Thanks for letting us know, Muriel. We have repaired the issue and apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused.

  9. Judy

    It’s time accept that children with extreme ADHD deserve your attention also. I am a grandparent dealing with the issues from birth, as a result of both parents drug use. In addition he has anger issues, ODD. Because of our age, and adoption, he has social security, (he has social security.) He is 10, we became parents for him at 5 weeks. Some days it is difficult—school is a constant struggle. Most teachers have no idea that ADHD affects his ability to do multiplication tables. He I a good reader, but has difficulty putting thoughts to paper. Organization is a problem. To be able to use electronics, computer etc. would be a positive. Elementary does not allow such. Help other parents & grandparents, caregivers to be able to ask for SSDI. And, when you write about other types of caregivers, do NOT leave us out. So many older Americans are now forced to be parents a second time. We, too, need recognition & a shoulder to cry on. BTW, I am 67, husband is 78.

    • ata

      There is nothing stopping you from applying for SSI for your grandchild. The article is somewhat confusing. SSI is NOT social security. And SSI is not supposed to prepare one for lifelong dependence upon the government. It is a welfare program administered by the SS Administration. Fortunately, it mentions job incentive programs but too many readers will gloss over that program.

    • Tom

      Your complaints are valid and misdirected. Agencies do not make the law, and regulations are based on law. You need to work with your congressional office and/or US Senators to update the law if you want changes in or expansion of entitlements. Unfortunately, every time SSA closes an office in NY, Chuck Schumer shows up to blame the agency after he agreed to another budget with reduced funding. I think he knows how government works, he is just terribly disingenuous and dishonest. If you feel the people you elect are not interested in making government work for you, you may wish to stop sending them back every 2 or 6 years. Otherwise, nothing will change for the better.

    • Andal

      It is actually easier to receive SSI for a child with ADHD, ODD or behavior problems than one who is missing a hand, arm or leg.

    • Rick

      Judy, I commend you for stepping up to the plate to raise your grandchildren at your stage in life. You more than most any others can provide your injured children with the special love and care that only a grandparent can show. I would hope that you, more than others would be encouraged to step in and be provided the financial support that you need and deserve for caring for your adopted children. Your efforts should be applauded!

  10. Heather r.

    I want to undubscribe.

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