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Believe it or not, transition planning can begin as early as 14! Transition can be a complicated process, however, starting the discussion early and knowing your options is the key to ensuring a positive and successful experience.

Transition 18

AGE 14

Start Exploring Adult Waiver Options

Age 14 is the earliest a person can apply for Medicaid I/DD Waiver Program. The I/DD waivers include the Supported Living Services (SLS) waiver and the Developmental Disability (DD) Waiver. An individual is able to be placed on the waitlist for these waivers which will increase their ability to have a resource available once they turn 18. Application for these waivers is done through your local Community Center Board.

The third Adult waiver option is the Elderly Blind Disabled (EBD) waiver. Application for this waiver begins 3-6 months before 18th birthday through your County’s Single Entry Point.

Additionally, at age 14, it may also be a good time to start looking at Special Needs Trusts.

A Special Needs Trust

If your child is expected to have or receive liquid assets over a specific amount by the time he or she is 18, you should consider setting up a Special Needs Trust. This will allow you time to plan for the safeguarding of those assets without your child losing benefit eligibility. The Special Needs Alliance has developed a Handbook for Trustees; you can find it at their website: You can also reach out to Colorado Fund for People with Disabilities (cfpd) for assistance:

School Transition Services

Transition Services in public Schools are mandated under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA (P.L. 101-476)). An Individualized Transition Plan must be developed for all students enrolled in Special Education or Integrated Learning Center (ILC) programs. This plan is developed by an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team. The transition planning process should consider what educational needs the student will continue to have in school, in addition to what will happen when he or she transitions from school to adult life. Depending on the individual/your child, this may include:

  • Post-Secondary Education
  • Vocational Training and/or Employment Options
  • Future Living Arrangements
  • Continuing and Adult Education
  • Day Program Services
  • Community Participation

For more information, contact your child’s school or teacher. To learn more about the IDEA Act, visit:

Transition 14

AGE 18

Entering Adulthood

Entering adulthood is one of the most important milestones in our lives. Everyone regardless of disability becomes an emancipated adult under Colorado law. You may want to explore guardianship or other options to assist you adult child in decision-making processes. Emancipation is automatic unless the parent formally goes through a legal process to obtain guardianship.

Guardianship and Other Options

When exploring what level of oversight and assistance your child may need to make decisions pertaining to finances, health, living arrangements, etc, you will want to begin discussions early. Guardianship is a great option for individuals are unable to make decisions for themselves, however, there are many options out there that can help parents support their adult child in making decisions while also promoting independence and individual choice.


A conservatorship is a court proceeding that appoints an individual, or an entity like a private fiduciary, to manage the financial affairs of a minor or an adult who is unable to manage his or her own property or financial matters. A conservator is held to the standard of care applicable to a trustee: which is that of a prudent person dealing with the property of another. A conservator must keep detailed and accurate records of all of the financial information of the protected person.

Limited Power of Attorney

A Limited Power of Attorney, also known as a Special Power of Attorney, is granted the legal authority, in writing, to perform a specific act or acts or have Power of Attorney for a limited amount of time.

Medical Durable Power of Attorney

Grants the Power of Attorney authority to make medical and personal care decisions on an individual’s behalf.

Financial Power of Attorney

A Financial Power of Attorney, also known as a General Power of Attorney or General Power of Attorney for Property, gives you the authority to manage your child’s finances and property, however, you may not override his/her wishes. For example, this would allow you to withdraw funds from a bank account, pay bills, and cash checks on the individual’s behalf. As of January 1, 2010 all financial powers of attorneys signed are considered “durable” unless otherwise stated.

Power of Attorney

Essentially, a power of attorney is a legal document that grants a parent (or another individual) legal rights and powers on behalf of your child (once the child is 18 years or older). You have the ability to make decisions for your child, but you cannot override his/her wishes.


Guardianship is a very powerful role to be played in the life of a person with a disability, and it may not be appropriate for your family or child. The guardian may make personal decisions for the ward (your child) relating to living arrangements, education, social activities, and authorization or withholding of medical or other professional care, treatment, or advice. The guardian must always make decisions that are in the best interests of the ward. The guardian must always make sure that the ward is living in the least restrictive environment in which the ward can remain safe.

A guardian must submit a written report to the court annually on the date of the guardian’s appointment. The report must include information on the health and living conditions of the ward and a current physician’s report. Guardianship can be obtained through the County Probate. You can learn more about Guardianship through the Guardianship Alliance of Colorado at:

Transition into Adulthood: Benefits and Criteria

There are several commonly used services, programs, and benefits available for your child. These services, programs, and benefits can vary depending on age.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

A disability benefit available through Social Services Administration. SSI provides a monthly benefit check to help meet daily living expenses, primarily food and housing.

SSI eligibility is based on two main factors:

  1. A person has a significant disability that impacts their ability to work
  2. A person meets the financial eligibility requirements.

To begin this application process, contact Social Security at: 1 (800) 772-1213 or

Long Term Home Health

If your child currently receives skilled home health services and you decide not to pursue a waiver and you want to continue skilled services, you will need to apply for the LTHH benefit. You will need to contact your local SEP in order to do this, LTHH benefit must be established by the 21st birthday.


A program administered by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (HCPF) that pays for health insurance for some Coloradans who cannot afford it.

Learn More

Adult Medicaid Application

As your child nears their 18th birthday they will need to apply for Medicaid as an “independent” adult. This process can begin 3 months prior to their 18th birthday. You will need to contact your County Medicaid office. Access Medical Enrollment Services can also help you complete this process.  303-755-4138 or