When a child reaches adolescence, parents may realize that radically different benefits will soon replace many services on which the child has long relied. This may happen at any time between age 18 and 23, depending on the state and the child's particular needs. Managing this transition to adult care presents one of the greatest difficulties and sources of stress for parents of children with special needs.
Once a child with special needs starts receiving their Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits, that will replace their Supplemental Security Income (SSI). They will also begin getting Medicare benefits after a two-year waiting period. And they will lose their automatic enrollment in Medicaid. That, of course, seems like a disaster.
Reframing the Situation
It’s very likely that the young adults will still be eligible for Medicaid directly, rather than connected to their SSI. We recommend that you consult with your local Medicaid agency about whether that’s the case and how to apply on behalf of your loved ones.
To learn more about government benefits for adults with special needs and how it all works, you can read our article Spouses May Qualify for Early Social Security Benefits If They Care for a Child with Disabilities. For questions, contact a special needs planner in your area.
Harry S. Margolis practices elder law, estate, and special needs planning in Boston and Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is the founder of ElderLawAnswers.com and answers consumer questions about estate planning issues here and at AskHarry.info.