Six Steps to Take if your Adult Child is found Ineligible for State Disability Services

If you have a young adult with a disability who has been found ineligible for state disability services, there are steps you can take to appeal or navigate this situation and advocate for their rights.

Parenting an adult child with a disability comes with its own set of challenges, and one of the most significant concerns is ensuring they have access to the support and services they need. State disability services are designed to provide assistance and resources to individuals with disabilities, but the reality is that not everyone who applies is approved. 

Transition tip

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) often denies the first application, and turning in the application again is found eligible. Understanding this situation and knowing how to appeal or advocate for your child’s rights will give you the confidence to navigate your next steps.

If your adult child has been denied state disability services such as Medicaid/Medicare or DDS services, it can be deflating. However, there are steps you can take to navigate this situation and advocate for your child’s rights.

1. Understand why your Adult Child was Denied Services

Before taking any action, it’s important to understand the reasons behind the denial. Call the state agency to ask why your adult child’s application was denied, and ask what specifically is needed for eligibility. This will help you address specific concerns and tailor your response accordingly.

2. Appeal the Decision

In many cases, the initial rejection may be due to a misunderstanding of the applicant’s needs, or missing documentation. Request a reconsideration by clarifying any misconceptions or submitting any missing information. Be thorough in presenting your appeal and highlight the specific ways in which your child meets the eligibility criteria for state disability services.

Transition tip

Be certain to appeal in a timely manner. Ask the designated agency about deadlines to submit your appeal.

3. Seek Legal Advice and Support

If the appeal is also denied, it may be time to seek legal advice. Consult with an attorney who specializes in disability law to understand your options. They can provide valuable guidance on the appeals process, potential legal remedies, and the specific rights and protections available to individuals with disabilities. If cost is an issue, depending on your personal circumstances, you may be able to obtain legal help from local legal aid services in your state. You can also connect with a chapter of your local Arc to obtain support and advocacy. 

4. Explore Alternative Services

Depending on the service, it may take several weeks to months to hear back when you file an appeal. While waiting for a resolution, explore alternative services and support networks within your community. Local nonprofits, advocacy groups, and disability-specific organizations may offer assistance and resources that can help bridge the gap left by the denial of state disability services. Connecting with other parents in similar situations can also provide emotional support and valuable insights. Research and join Parent’s Facebook groups and speak with trusted professionals to ask if they can connect you with other parents who are in this situation.

5. Document and Communicate

 Record and maintain detailed records of all communication with the state agency, including emails, letters, and phone conversations. There are several ways to document your record. You can purchase a notebook and file folder, use a binder or keep records on Google Drive. Whatever way is comfortable for you is acceptable as long as you have a system in place. In each communication with the state agency, clearly communicate your child’s needs, challenges, and the reasons why state disability services are essential for their well-being. Be professional and polite in your communications.

Transition tip

Documentation will be crucial in building a strong case during the appeal process.

6. Advocate for Policy Change

If the denial is a result of broader or systemic issues, such as government funding issues, or outdated policies, consider becoming an advocate for policy change. Collaborate with local disability advocacy groups to raise awareness about the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities in accessing necessary services. Engage with policymakers and work towards creating a more inclusive and supportive system for everyone.


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