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Transition to Adulthood

The Big Picture

Age-based Milestones

There are a lot of changes that occur during the twelve years covered by this timeline. These changes may be easier if you feel prepared, and know what to expect.

As you move into your teen years, and then continue into adulthood, here are some things to plan for, consider, and celebrate!

From Teen to Adult

Age 13

You can now view PG-13 rated films on your own.

Age 14

You are now allowed to work at a job for a maximum of 18 hours a week, as long as you have a worker’s permit. If you work, make sure you file your income taxes with your parent or guardian’s help. If you receive SSI and begin working, make sure you report your income to the Social Security Administration each month. They will begin adjusting the amount of SSI you receive, but this adjusted amount, combined with your income, will always be more money than you were receiving before you started working.

If you have a disability, you should begin planning for the transition to adulthood. Look into creating a “portable medical summary” and care plan, which can be shared with future providers. This summary and care plan should include emergency treatment plans, health education history, and, for individuals with communication support needs, your preferred mode of communication and necessary accommodations.

If you are in foster care, you may consider planning for the transition out of foster care. Life Skills Training is a great way to learn skills such as: shopping, budgeting, finding an apartment and housekeeping. Check out the transition from foster care information pack!

Even if you do not have a disability, you should begin talking to your doctor about the transition to adulthood. You may want to start keeping track of your own medical records, scheduling your own doctor’s visits, and begin receiving new services, such as gynecological care if you are a female.

Age 15

If you receive SSI and work at the same time, you can now apply for a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS). This will allow you to set aside some money towards a work goal, which is exempt from the SSI income deduction.

Age 16

You can get your driving learner’s permit, and start learning how to drive a vehicle. Then, you can apply for a junior/provisional driver’s license.

You can also be considered emancipated by a court. This means that you no longer live with your parent or guardian, and do not receive money from them. If your parents or guardian forced you to leave the house, you can ask for child support from a court. You may still need parent and guardian permission for working papers, driver’s license, and/or your learner’s permit.

You are now allowed to work at a job for a maximum of 28 hours a week, as long as you have a worker’s permit. If you work, make sure you file your income taxes with your parent or guardian’s help. If you receive SSI and begin working, make sure you report your income to the Social Security Administration each month. They will begin adjusting the amount of SSI you receive, but this adjusted amount, combined with your income, will always be more money than you were receiving before you started working. You can reduce this deduction by setting aside money for a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS).

You should begin talking to your doctor about the transition to adulthood. You may want to start keeping track of your own medical records, scheduling your own doctor’s visits, and begin receiving new services, such as gynecological care if you are a female.

Age 17

You can get your driver’s license, as long as you took at driver’s education course and pass your road test.

You can now view R-rated films on your own.

Age 18

You are now legally considered an adult, but cannot legally drink alcohol, gamble or purchase a firearm until age 21.

You can get your driver’s license, even if you did not take a driver’s education course.

You can now vote.

Did you know that you are eligible to stay in high school until you are 21? Even if you drop out and change your mind, you are able to re-enroll up to age 21.

You can work without a worker’s permit. If you work, make sure you file your income taxes. If you are a full-time student, your parents can still claim you as a deduction on their income taxes until age 24. If you receive SSI and begin working, make sure you report your income to the Social Security Administration each month. They will begin adjusting the amount of SSI you receive, but this adjusted amount, combined with your income, will always be more money than you were receiving before you started working. You can reduce this deduction by setting aside money for a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS).

You will now be tried as an adult if you commit a crime.

If you are in foster care, there are a number of ways you can continue to receive support. For example, you can continue to receive Medicaid until you’re 21. You can file for an extension of your current foster-care status. You can also receive a number of benefits—including Independent Living Stipends—through the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program. Check out the transition from foster care information pack!

If you have a permanent disability, you may be eligible to receive some supports that can help you live independently. You can contact your local Social Security office, or Developmental Disability Resource Office (DDRO) for more information.

Age 19

You may need to ensure that you will continue to have health insurance, especially if you are a recipient of the Child’s Health Insurance Plan. Medicaid can provide you with health insurance if you have a disability, are low-income, or are in foster-care. You may also be able to remain on your parent’s health insurance until you are 26. You can also get your own health insurance plan through an employer, a college, or through private pay.

Age 21

You have reached the maximum age for participation in high school. You must stop attending high school after this school year is over.

If you filed extensions for a foster-care placement, you can no longer be granted additional extensions.

By New York State law, you are now allowed to legally drink alcohol, gamble, and purchase a firearm.

Age 26

You need to find your own health insurance if you are still covered by your parent or guardian’s plan.

Developed by the Council on Children and Families and Funded by the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council