|Image via Wikipedia|
One of the things that we need to get started with is applying with the Social Security Administration to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for our son. SSI is a program that helps the aged, blind, and disabled people with little or no income to provide funds for basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter. We have an appointment with SSA at the end of the month.
As my son has gotten older, it has become painfully obvious that he will not be able to provide and care for himself as he enters into adulthood. We have known all along that this would probably be the case, but we have always held out hope that he would be able to do more things for himself and be able to work. Currently, he does do a little work in a sheltered workshop at school, but his ability to consistently work and earn money is lacking. He made less than $100 last year.
If my son is declared eligible for SSI benefits, it would be a tremendous benefit for our family. I would be made the payee of the benefits, and would have to set up a custodial checking account for him. All of the money that gets paid into the account would need to be used for his needs, such as food, clothing, medical expenses, and some entertainment. We will need to do detailed record keeping of how we are using the funds for his benefit. I am hopeful that the this additional income for him would allow me to cut back or stop working at my pizza delivery job.
The other thing that we are going to have to do is meet with a lawyer to apply with the courts to have guardianship of our son after he turns 18. This will allow us to be the ones to make decisions for his care and well being since he will not be able to do so. The government assumes that when our son reaches the age of 18 that he will be responsible for making his own decisions for his care unless the courts say otherwise. My father in law provided us with the name of an attorney to get the process rolling.
It will be important for us to retain the guardianship after he turns 18 for a number of reasons. In the event that he ends up needing medical care for any reason, that we be able to make those decisions for him. Without having guardianship, if our son says he does not want treatment, then the doctors would not be able to legally treat him. It will also allow me to retain him on my health insurance plan at work. Wish us well as we embark on this next phase of being the parents of a child with autism and other disabilities.