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Adult Services in Oregon

As my son is transitioning to adulthood, my local Developmental Disabilities office has given me a handbook. Fortunately the handbook is available for free on the web. Here are parts of the book:

There was a separate sheet that went with the booklet that I couldn't find on the internet. It was excellent information on applying for Social Security, housing, and other services:

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT TURNING 18 SERVICES

Eligibility

Between ages 16-18 an IQ test is helpful; an old IQ test does not give current enough information even if nothing has changed, as adolescence can include sudden skills and growth in many areas(IQ and adaptive scores cannot be over 3 years old). OHP can pay for the test or your DD Services Coordinator may be able to access the test through our agency. Private insurance can also pay for the test if you have your doctor make a referral for an evaluation to include IQ scores and adaptive scores.

Guardianship

At age 18, all adults are their own guardian unless parents take legal steps to become the guardian. If you want to be the guardian, see an attorney and know that fees will include a court visitor to your home to determine the young adult's ability to self-advocate. The judge makes the final determination no matter what the court visitor recommends. The cost is usually about $2000 or more.

Social Security (SSI) and Oregon Health Plan (OHP)

Two weeks before turning 18, fill out an application for SSI (www.ssa.gov) and call to make an appointment (1-800-772-1213). SSI is needed to qualify for OHP. Parent income is not taken into consideration after age 18, so fill out the forms base on the income of your young adult (this is usually zero). When you are asked if they pay rent, the answer is "Yes, if they had an income, it would be necessary." If you say "No" the funding will be much less. You will need to tell them an exact amount that you will charge for rent. Decide what portion of the house is used and be sure to include utilities in this room and board rate. You can Pro-rate utilities and room/board.

Take the young adult with you when you have the appointment for SSI. This gives the worker an idea of how the disability presents in every day life. If SSI is awarded, the first payment will be after the first full month they are 18 years old. If denied, an appeal process is advised; funding is awarded based on the original appointment date with back-pay. For OHP, call to apply through Disability Services of Oregon (DSO 541-967-8630). This usually qualifies your young person for OHP for life (an open card). If you already have OHP, an adult application must still be made.

Brokerage

After turning 18 (and after SSI and OHP notification letters confirm benefits), a brokerage referral packet will be completed unless you decline services. Your county Services Coordinator will provide an application, release of information and Title XIXform to be filled out and signed. The application is reviewed & person-centered planning process is assigned to a Personal Agent and they will call to make an appointment with you. If there is an active Family Support Plan, the plan will go into effect after a person-centered plan is completed. Each plan is based on the individual, so one person may have a very high dollar plan (medically involved) to a $300 plan (most needs provided by natural supports/family/friends). Even if there was no Family Support Plan, you can ask for whatever services might enhance your young person's life. Services might include transportation, adaptations, equipment, vocational support, in-home services, community inclusion, specialized camps, classes and/or providers to help attend appointments. The Personal Agent will then be your contact person and the county will only become involved in a crisis/emergency situation.

School

A young person with a disability has the right to continue education until age 21. These are called Transition Services, which may not always include a full day.

Vocational

When schooling is complete, vocational services will be accessed. A representative from Voc. Rehab, may attend a school meeting to assess the young person's support needs before 18, but will not pay for services to assist in finding work until school is over. Several agencies are contracted with Benton County to provide supported employment. Private pay for services is possible, as is funding through our agency (based on a waitlist). The Summer Learn to Work Program is available through Benton County by application to youth ages 16-21. This program is a great way to find vocational strengths and skills by trying a variety of jobs.

Alternatives to Employment

The QUEST Program provides excellent activities and learning experiences as a transition/life skills training. The GAMUT Program provides an enriched environment for those needing specialized skills training and job transitioning because they are medically involved. Activities based on individual capacity/energy level are provided by well-trained staff.

Adjusting to Adulthood

Since becoming an adult is a major transition, counseling is available, including classes and groups lead by qualified mental health specialists at Benton County DD Services.

Housing

Section 8 or HUD housing can be applied for through your Services Coordinator or Personal Agent. This provides reduced rent to people with low income eligibility. The waitlist can be two years, so if the young adult is interested in living in subsidized housing, it is smart to get on the waitlist at age 18. You can live alone or with a roommate. If you move, the HUD will go with you anywhere in the state. Notify HUD if you get a new phone number, or they will put you at the bottom of the list and the 2 year wait starts over. A Semi-Independent Living Program also provides services for 1-3 hours a week for people who need a little help. You can also choose to live at home for as long as parents can accommodate. If/when a different living situation is needed, group homes and foster homes provide a wonderful supportive environment. Different funding sources may take time to develop, so please let your Services Coordinator know when you suspect a family situation may change and more support is needed.

Selective Service Simply fill out a card at the Post Office and write Developmental Disability at the top of the card, then mail it.

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