For individuals with disabilities, and their parents and guardians, reaching adulthood presents a period of transition in terms of government benefits.

Social Security reevaluates a person’s disability when they turn eighteen. The disability standards to qualify for SSI do differ for adults and children. What qualified as disabled for a child may not qualify as disabled for an adult. As a result, some individuals who received SSI as a child may not qualify for SSI as an adult. Concerned individuals should meet with an attorney experienced in Social Security disability applications for more guidance.

One area where eligibility may be broadened, however, are in terms of how SSI’s need-based requirements are evaluated. Once an applicant turns eighteen, the applicant’s own financial situation, not including parental resources, determines their eligibility. If parental assets were previously keeping someone from qualifying for SSI, turning eighteen may open up the possibility of SSI eligibility.

Individuals turning eighteen will also need a bank account, in their own name, to receive benefits.

An additional area of support that disabled individuals and their families can look into are ABLE accounts and special needs trusts.

Both ABLE accounts and special needs trusts allow for disabled individuals to receive financial support while still maintaining eligibility for government benefits.

Whether an ABLE account and/or a special needs trust is best depends on an individual client’s specific situation. In short, ABLE accounts are more flexible in terms of how money can be used, but have limits on total account size and yearly donation limits. Special needs trusts do not have the size or yearly donation limits, but have more restrictions how the money can be used.

Individuals and their families should discuss their options with an experienced special needs attorney. A special needs attorney can make sure that whatever options individuals and their families choose, the options will conform to state and federal requirements for benefit eligibility now and how to properly operate the trust and/or ABLE account over time.

To discuss options going forward for disabled individuals approaching adulthood, please call Martha C. Brown & Associates at (314) 962-0186.