Pilot Program May Offer Hope for Aging Parents of Disabled Children

What will happen to my disabled child when I get too old to care for them?

It is never easy to learn that your child has been diagnosed with a disability, especially one that is significant and lifelong and may prevent the child from ever living independently. Sometimes the diagnosis comes at birth, sometimes at a later point. After the shock wears off, many parents do the research and at some point begin applying for Social Security disability benefits and other assistance from the federal government.

Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) is one of two federal government benefit programs available to those who meet the government’s definition of being physically or mentally “disabled”.

Unlike Social Security disability insurance benefits (“SSDI”), SSI does not require the applicant to have previously worked and paid into the Social Security system through their income taxes prior to becoming disabled. Rather, SSI is a means-tested benefit available to the disabled (or those of advanced age) with severely-limited income and resources. Even if someone qualifies for social security disability benefits, recipients– especially those with advanced needs who cannot live independently– would be challenged to survive on these benefits alone.

As most parents of disabled children and disabled adult children will admit, they fear dying because they don’t know who will take care of their disabled child after they are gone.

The toll of caring for a disabled child at home can be a financial, emotional, and physical burden to their aging parents. What will happen when the parents need someone to take care of them or need to go into assisted living themselves?

This scenario– a nightmare for many special-needs parents—may finally have a brighter solution in the future.

A pilot program to ease the burden for seniors charged with the care of a disabled person is being considered in New York. In a nutshell, the aging parent would enter an assisted living community and be able to bring their disabled adult child with them where they would share a small companion suite. Both would have access to the facility’s amenities including “housekeeping, on-staff doctors and resident nurses, laundry services, physical therapy, and more” as well as social programs in-house. Then, the disabled child will remain at the facility after the parent dies.

No doubt, the pilot program will be watched with interest by special-needs parents nationwide and may serve as a model for other states to incorporate to meet the growing need for such accommodations.

If you need help applying for disability benefits or appealing the denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

From our offices in Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, we represent clients throughout the state of Arizona in all matters of Social Security disability law.