Transition Milestones

Milestones at Any Age

If the student has a developmental disability, there are several commonly used services and benefits that a family may want to look into, including but not limited to:

  • SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is a disability benefit available through the Social Security Administration (SSA, 1-800-772-1213 or SSI eligibility is based on two main factors: 1) whether a person has a significant disability that impacts their ability to work, and 2) whether a person meets the financial eligibility requirements. SSI provides a monthly benefit check to help meet daily living expenses.
  • Medicaid is 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. A person must apply for Medicaid benefits through the local Department of Housing and Human Services, even if they are SSI eligible. For the locations and telephone numbers of local sites, visit
  • EPSDT (Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment) provides additional Medicaid benefits to children, ages birth to 21. These services are accessed through the primary care physician. For more information, call 1-800-688-7777 or log on to


Milestones at Age 14

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) transition planning will be included in the development of the IEP for each student receiving special education services. This 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.

Age 14 is the earliest a student can apply for Division for Developmental Disabilities (DDD)-funded adult services. Even though services cannot begin until the child is at least 18 years of age, due to waiting lists for these adult services, families are encouraged to apply for services at age 14 and get on the waiting list. This transition planning will help to ensure that funding for DDD services is available when the student turns 18.


Milestones at Age 16

When a student turns 16, and earlier if appropriate, the IEP must include statements of specific transition services including linkages to the agencies that will provide supports to the individual after high school.

Vocational Rehabilitation services may be available to explore work opportunities. Although an individual may be eligible for services beginning at age 16, the time at which a student should be referred to VR for services is unique to each individual, and does not correspond to a specific age, or a specific event such as graduation. Rather it should occur at a time when the student’s emphasis shifts from an academic focus to an employment focus, and the youth becomes available for vocational programming.


Milestones at Age 18

Age 18 is perhaps one of the most important ages for any person. Everyone automatically becomes an emancipated adult under Colorado law. Parents may want to consider guardianship if their son or daughter is not able to make decisions for themselves. It is important to know that emancipation is automatic unless the parent purposefully goes through a legal process to get guardianship.

DDD-funded services are available for adults, age 18 and older (e.g. Developmental Disability waiver services and Supported Living Services). However, unlike public education, DDD-funded services are not an entitlement. There may be waiting lists for services. When services are available, they can be provided in combination with (but not duplicate) a school program and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services.

If the student is enrolled in the Children’s Extensive Support program or the Children’s HCBS program, these services end at age 18.

At age 18, all adults with a developmental disability, if not already SSI eligible, are encouraged to apply for SSI benefits and Medicaid benefits.

If Medicaid eligible, it is recommended that families begin reviewing their child’s long-term medical and care needs for items that are covered under Early and Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT). At age 21, EPSDT will no longer be available.

If the student is still on a waiting list for DDD-funded services at age 18, the family may want to consider applying for the Elderly, Blind, and Disabled waiver through county social services.

The student can register to vote. Males must register for the Selective Service.


Milestones at Age 21

Entitlement for Public Education ends.

If the student is Medicaid eligible, general Medicaid benefits will continue, however, EPSDT will no longer be available after their 21st birthday.