As an individual moves from high school into young adulthood, it’s important to be equipped with the skills, tools, guidance and support to successfully transition into the next phase of life.

Transition planning

The Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) covers education through age 22 — when an individual will age out of the school system. However, the school is required to work with you to develop a detailed transition plan.A transition plan is a section of the Individual Education Plan (IEP) that highlights goals for adulthood as well as the services available to help.Each goal is broken down into actionable milestones that should be accomplished during the final school year to attain post high school goals. Although each transition plan is unique and tailored to the needs, strengths, skills and interests, common areas include:  

  • Life skills development,
  • Pre-vocational skills training,
  • Social interaction skills,
  • Living objectives and
  • Recreational activities.

If your IEP team has not started focusing on transition planning by the age of 16, it’s critical for you to initiate the process.

Guardianship or an alternative

If your child needs help making important decisions, such as medical and financial, you may want to consider a guardianship. Oftentimes, parents elect to become guardians to preserve as many rights as possible for their child and to help him or her become more independent while building in protections.You should also consider potential successor guardians in the event you’re no longer around to provide care. Whether or not you establish guardianship should be based on the needs and abilities of your child. In the event you find guardianship to be too restrictive, you may find more comfort in the use of alternatives like a durable power of attorney. The durable power of attorney may be more suitable if your child can make decisions on certain matters but benefits from occasional guidance.

Workshops and adult education

If you don’t see post-secondary education in your child’s future, there are many other educational possibilities that may be tied to university settings. Speak with your local school administration to understand the availability of different educational, employment and life development programs. Many non-profit organizations run continued workshops on various subjects of interest to families with special needs. You can also find organizations that help in employment and residential possibilities as well as other opportunities.

Additional takeaways for transition planning

  • Make sure your child’s assets are not in excess of $2,000, because assets over this amount could cause an individual with special needs to be ineligible for Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid. If the individual’s assets do exceed this threshold, you may want to look into methods of shrinking those assets or transferring them to a trust.
  • Get acquainted with local organizations that work with government agencies to provide aid. Learn how these organizations work, so you can strengthen your voice of advocacy.
  • Oftentimes an individual with special needs can live independently. There are many options for residential and living arrangements, but most of these options need to be integrated with the appropriate legal structure and financial backdrop. 
  • Reevaluate continued eligibility for key government benefit programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.
  • In addition to any residential needs, you should also evaluate whether or not there are any transportation requirements and which resources may be available.

As you transition into adulthood, it’s important you have the proper protective measures in place. Doing so can help you plan for the future. If you need assistance at any point in the planning process, we’re here to help.

Please contact a specially trained financial professional* for more information*

Neither Voya nor its affiliated companies or representatives provide tax or legal advice. Please consult a tax adviser or attorney before making a tax-related investment/insurance decision.

*Financial Professionals are Investment Advisor Representatives of, and offer securities and investment advisory services through Voya Financial Advisors, Inc. (Member SIPC).