Guardianship and SSI Benefits for Young Adults with Special Needs

Every child entering adulthood should be celebrated. It is a great milestone, but for a child with special needs, it comes with a package of newer responsibilities and issues to be addressed. The parents of a child with special needs must adhere to certain issues and must have a plan at their disposal beforehand.

The parents should consider guardianship and SSI benefits before the child comes to the age of majority. The parents must decide whether they will file a petition for guardianship also called conservatorship in a few states as well as how they plan to access the SSI benefits.

It is very important to note that this planning is regarding a child with special needs so it must be handled with utmost love and care. The age of guardianship varies in different states, ranging from 18 to 21 but in certain cases when the young adults graduate from high school early, that age is also taken into consideration.

Guardianship and SSI Benefits

If a special child is unable to do his/her personal chores without the aid of an adult; if s/he cannot make certain important healthcare-related decisions on his/her own, then they are needed care after entering adulthood. As per the state’s law, it is advisable that the parents of the child must file a petition in the local court in order to let the court appoint a guardian for the child with special needs.

According to the law, a person who becomes an adult in America should be capable of managing his/her own life affairs, but if s/he is unable to do, so it is important to obtain guardianship. A person should be appointed to manage the day-to-day chores of the disabled adult along with taking care of his/her personal needs. The young adult can have his/her own assets, bank account, savings, etc. and a parent must be covering him/her as a guardian of the estate.

Guardianship and SSI benefits

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Once the guardianship is authorized by the court, the person in charge must submit to the court a periodic report of the individual under his/her care and is liable to provide the court detailed documentation of the financial matters.

Guardianship and SSI benefits must be acknowledged by the parents before applying in court. The parents should analyze the condition of their child; whether s/he can communicate easily and follow decisions made on his/her behalf or not.

Legal Authorization

If a young adult with special needs requires a great deal of signing legal documents to manage his/her financial affairs, then it is advisable that s/he chooses someone worthy and appropriate to sign on his/her behalf. In other words, the young adult must give a short-term power of attorney to the guardian to manage the financial matters.

A young adult can also appoint a healthcare power of attorney which in other words is known as an advanced medical director or a health care proxy. It is the state’s duty to determine the condition of the young adult and whether s/he is appointing these attorneys with free will or is forced to do so.

Legal authorization

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Once the documents are signed legally, the guardian has the authority to manage all the financial decisions and matters such as payment of bills, managing the financial resources as well as making critical health care decisions.

The HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) signed document is released, which allows the guardian to have direct access to the medical records of the young adult.

In some states of America, the child is made to sign certain paperwork in order to assign the guardian to make educational decisions on his/her behalf as well. In this case, if this requirement is not made then when till a certain age; then the parents can no longer access the school records of the child with special needs.


The rules of guardianship attainment vary from state to state. As the eligibility criteria differ; it is very important to consult the laws prescribed by the state so that the application is made in accordance with the rules of your respective state.

Almost 39 states of America certify that the child with special needs who have been eligible for SSI benefits is automatically eligible for Medicaid. Individuals must be disabled and should belong to the low-income spectrum to qualify for Social Service Disability Income. The income shall not surpass $2,000.


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Medicaid is a joint venture of the federal and state governments, which ensures the provision of medical services and benefits to families and individuals of America. In 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) made sure that the Medicaid coverage was provided to all Americans aged between 19 to 64 with an income of up to 133 percent of the prescribed federal level of poverty; in other words, it should be $14,856 for individuals whereas $30,656 for a family of four persons.

Once the ACA is fully implemented, it expands the eligibility criteria of Medicaid along with making the individuals request for health insurance despite having preexisting medical conditions.

Medicaid has always been an essential and formulated part of the lives of young adults with disabilities as it enabled them to work in a peaceful environment, provide them health care management along with the latest technology and other services so that they can also be considered a constructive part of the society.

Social Security Benefits

The Social Security Benefits formulate the upbringing of the young adults with disabilities in accordance with their medical and financial support system. When a child comes to the age of 18, s/he becomes eligible to receive certain Social Security Benefits and programs such as Supplemental Security Income.

If an adult does not attain the age of maturity by a particular state as the age bracket varies from state to state, then the federal law jumps in and provides financial assistance to the young adult up till the time s/he qualifies for Social Security Benefits.

Social Security Benefits

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SSI benefits provide cash payments on a monthly basis to make up for the basic needs of an individual such as food and shelter. The SSI benefit is the same across the country but in a few states, the additional supplemental benefit is also provided.

The Social Security Administration is responsible for managing the SSI program. Children under 18 having special needs also qualify for this program but their requirements and eligibility differ.

If a child starts receiving Social Security Income before s/he turns 18, then the parents are liable to schedule an appointment with a medical practitioner in order to ensure that the child will keep on receiving the SSI benefits even when s/he comes of age.


If a young adult with special needs endorses certain financial resources when s/he becomes an adult (in most cases it is 18); then s/he will be no longer eligible to receive SSI benefits as well as Medicaid benefits. The guardian or the family must need to devise a plan to utilize these excessive financial resources or to transfer them.

If a young adult gets a modest financial amount at the age of maturity, then it is important to submit an application for the benefits while utilizing or spending the excess amount beforehand.


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On the contrary, if a child inherits a certain amount of money upon reaching the age, from a trust or a will; or was named as an inheritor or beneficiary in a life insurance policy or a retirement plan; then it becomes absolutely necessary to create an OBRA ‘93(d)(4)(A). It is a Payback Special Needs trust that aids the child’s benefits as well as asks the court to grant permission of transferring the assets or the amount in this said trust.

Once this transfer is authorized by the court and is done to the chosen trust or is spent out, then there is absolutely no need for the guardian of the estate to be in the picture. The person can continue to receive the social security disability income.

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