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Much ink has been spilled about the transition from employment to disability. But comparatively little has been said about the opposite transition. And, in many ways, the move from disability to employment is much more difficult than the move from employment to disability.

Regardless of their physical or mental impediments, all young people deserve a chance to make their own way in the world and experience the ups and downs of life. The SSA has some resources to aid this transition. There are also a number of programs available, some of which are examined below.

Families who have disabled children should be especially interested in these resources and programs. It’s always a little scary to see children grow up and go out on their own. This experience is even more frightening when your child has a serious emotional or physical disability.

At the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm, we understand what you are going through, and we are here to help. We don’t just obtain benefits for disabled individuals. And we don’t just support our clients months or years down the road. We help make families stronger, because in the end, that’s what SSI disability lawyers in Memphis are supposed to do.

Age 18 Redeterminations

Yes, you are correct…this is not really an acronym. But it is an excellent place to start our discussion of some resources that help your family during this period.

Within a year of the disabled child’s 18th birthday, the SSA usually reaches out concerning an age 18 redetermination. Generally, this redetermination involves a medical exam. The DDS typically asks for supporting documentation as well, such as:

  • Information about prior hospitalizations, such as place and duration,
  • All current and former medications,
  • Vocational activity, including unpaid positions,
  • Physician contact information,
  • Accessible therapy or counselling records, and
  • Relevant educational records, such as special classes or contact information for teachers who are aware of the child’s condition.

The disability rules for adults are different from the disability rules for children. Income is a factor as well. DDS examiners should distinguish between earned income and work incentive income, but they do not always do so. As a result, about a third of children lose their benefits when they turn 18. 

The appeals window is very small. After 60 days pass, an SSI lawyer near you will be unable to appeal the adverse reconsideration.

Many families elect not to appeal adverse decisions, and we certainly understand why. However, we do not want your child to face the future without a safety net. That’s why our SSA law firm encourages families to take a good look at the following programs. Here’s where the acronyms start.


Many school-age children are in Individualized Educational Programs, especially if they receive disability benefits. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, schools are required to provide speech therapists, homework helpers, and other services to disabled students. 

This federal obligation terminates when the student turns 18, so in almost all cases, the IEP program terminates as well. However, in most states, IEPs are available until age 22, especially if the child needs additional time to graduate.


Some people think Vocational Rehabilitation is the same thing as physical therapy. But there are some big differences. For example, physical therapists focus on strengthening the muscles and restoring lost functions. VR focuses on stretching the mind and teaching new vocational skills. 

These programs help disabled young adults get the financial assistance they need to put their new skills to the test. Essentially, enrollment in a VR program convinces DDS examiners that the person wants to get off disability and enter the workforce, but the new adult just needs a little help.


The Student Earned Income Exclusion allows young people under 22 who are still in school to deduct some of their earnings from the Social Security tax requirement. That means additional take-home pay. Requirements include attending:

  • Middle or high school-level classes at least twelve hours a week,
  • College or university-level classes at least eight credit hours per quarter or semester, or
  • A pre-employment training course at least twelve hours a week.

Homeschooling and distance learning counts as class attendance. The SEIE credit is available for summer employment if the young person qualified for this benefit immediately prior to and after vacation.


A Plan to Achieve Self-Support is something like a 529 college savings plan. PASS lets young people set aside some money tax-free to pay for future self-sufficiency needs, whether they are educational or vocational. Additionally, if the young adult has a PASS, s/he might qualify for additional Social Security financial benefits.


Everyone wants to Achieve a Better Life Experience, and these tax-free savings accounts help. Anyone can contribute to these savings accounts provided the account owner is disabled or blind, or is a disabled or blind widow or widower. The account balance can be as high as $100,000 and it does not count as an SSI financial resource. Perhaps best of all, the money can be used for almost anything tangentially related to building a better life experience.


Work Incentive Planning and Assistance begins at age 14. So, if your youngster has made considerable improvements, WIPA is a good way to stay ahead of the curve. WIPA is mostly public works projects. But instead of just painting signs or picking up trash on the highway, youngsters learn things like planning and budgeting skills. Click here to find a WIPA program near you.


Young adults should no longer rely on their parents to advocate for them. However, they should not have to live life alone either. Protection and Advocacy for Social Security Beneficiaries groups are like unions that represent beneficiaries and former beneficiaries. They are also clearinghouses which have information about vocational rehabilitation and other opportunities.

At the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm, we are here to help families through life’s transitions. You can contact us at (901) 244-0057 or send us a message here. At Heermans we EMPOWER personal “disabilities”.

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