When a child becomes a legal adult on the day they turn 18 years old, many of the services they receive will change, and how they get help paying for those services will change too.
Some of those changes are with:
While there is a legal change at age 18, you can start early – even at birth – to plan and prepare your child for adulthood. We’ve put together a list of the changes in services to consider as your child goes through the transition.
Here are some programs that your child might get as an adult if they meet all the rules and are approved:
Waivers are other services your child might be able to get. These programs are all based on your child’s income, not the family’s income. Most of these programs have very long interest lists, known by many parents as waiting lists. Even if you hope your child will never need those services, your child must be added to the interest list for any programs that can most meet their needs. You can always decline the services once your child moves to the top of the list, so sign up now. There is no minimum age for getting on an interest list.
Here is a list of waivers for adults and the age your child could start using them. See our Waivers page to learn more about each program and how to sign up.
These waiver programs are for people of all ages:
Here are some programs that will end when your child becomes an adult:
Some children who have been getting special education services can receive job training to help develop the skills they need to live independently. The school district can provide these services to your child through the end of the school year when they turn 22 years old. To get these services, your child has to have graduated without enough credits for a recommended diploma and these training services have to be listed in their Individualized Education Program. These services are at no cost to the family. To learn more, see our Transitioning Out of Public Education page.
If your child is age 18 or older, is receiving special education services and wants job training, they might also be able to get help from the Texas Workforce Commission . TWC offers job training programs and pays for some assistive technology for adults with disabilities and special health care needs. If your child says they want to work as an adult, TWC can send counselors to your child’s Admission, Review, and Dismissal meetings starting at age 14.
When your child turns 18 years old, most programs stop looking at your family’s income and only look at your child’s income, property and savings to decide if your child can get services or benefits. Many federal and state programs set a limit of $2,000 in savings. If your child has more than that, they can’t get the service.
There are still more ways to save for your child’s future. It is a good idea to look into creating a will and a special needs trust. These protect your child’s ability to receive and keep benefits. You can do this long before the day your child turns 18 years old.
You can also look into the Texas ABLE Program. It offers savings accounts for people whose disability or special health care needs began before age 26. An ABLE Account can help support your child’s independence, health and quality of life.
When your child is 17 years old or younger, and you take them to the doctor, bank or school, the people there usually talk to you first about what’s happening with your child. Even when your child plays an active role in their life choices, you are legally responsible for the final decisions.
The day your child turns 18 this changes. Your child becomes responsible for their own life choices, care and actions. Legally, the school, bank and doctors are all supposed to work directly with your child. They might still listen to you and consider what you have to say, but they can’t tell you anything unless your child says they can. Or you have legal documents in place.
There are ways to share decision-making with your child or stay legally in charge of certain decisions for them. If you feel that your child can’t manage adult decisions on their own, there are legal tools to protect them. To find out more, see our Legal Options for Age 18 and Beyond page. Although many of these tools and protections don’t go into effect until the day your child turns 18, you can begin getting ready even years earlier.