When Your Child Turns 14
As stated by the MA Disability Law Center, in preparing for their lives as adults, students in special education have the right to learn more than traditional classroom subjects at school. They have the right to study social skills, job skills, and independent-living skills. U.S. and Massachusetts law mandates these “transition services” to students between the ages of 14 and 22.
Transition services are part of, and not separate from, a school district’s responsibility to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Transition goals and services should be in the student’s Individual Education Program (IEP) beginning in the year the student turns 14. Transition planning should occur each year thereafter either prior to or at the annual development of the IEP.
Click here to view the Transition Services Family Guide developed by the Federation for Children with Special Needs.
When Your Child Turns 18
At age 18, your child has nearly all the legal rights and responsibilities of an adult. Among their new rights are the right to vote and serve on a jury, to marry, to enlist in the military or get medical treatment without their parents’ consent. Where the child is sufficiently disabled, obtaining medical treatment, and State and Federally funded services requires that a parent or guardian has legal guardianship of the child. Guardianship is obtained through the Massachusetts Court System by filling out the form called "Petition for Guardianship of an Incapacitated Adult", which can be found here.
The process goes through the family and probate court. The office of the registrar of probate is generally very helpful in filling out the paperwork. For families in Middlesex County, the court house is in Cambridge and the phone number is 617-768-5858. Comprehensive evaluations of your child's disability level by a team (including clinical psychologist, LICSW, etc.) are required, and must have taken place within 3 months of processing by the court. Interested families should check with their DDS area office to see if comprehensive evaluations can be scheduled (in the DDS office) in one meeting. For further information, or to speak to a parent who completed the process, feel free to contact us for assistance.
Applying for Social Security
Children from birth to age 18 can get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if they meet Social Security’s definition of disability for children, and if they have little or no income and resources. The family’s household income, resources and other personal information are also considered. For more information, click here.
Disabled children who turn 18 are considered adults and thus will be able to get Supplemental Security Income (SSI), regardless of their family’s household income or resources. More information can be found here.
Additionally, when a parent reaches retirement age, their children can begin receiving Social Security payments, even if the parent defers receiving social security payments until after retirement age.
Advisors Who Can Help
Other Resources Regarding Transition