Independent Living

As teens approach adulthood, living independently becomes a significant goal. Independent living skills or tasks are those related to daily living and may include housing, personal care, transportation, and social and/or recreational opportunities. Each student’s needs in the area of independent living are unique and should be determined through formal and informal age-appropriate transitional assessments.

TSLP Tips for Parents (Transition Services for Students with Developmental Disabilities)

South Dakota law states:

  • An individual becomes an adult at age 18.
  • At that time, they will be responsible for making their own decisions no matter how significant their disability is.
  • Parents/Guardians will lose their right to make decisions on the child’s behalf.

If an individual will be in need of assistance in making decisions, families need to plan ahead before the person turns 18. There are many options when considering helping someone with decisions after their 18th birthday. It is best to allow a young adult to keep as many rights as possible.

Options Available:

Supported Decision Making (SDM): The process of assisting persons with a disability to make their own decisions, so they can develop and pursue their own goals, make choices about their adult life, and exercise some control over the things that are important to them.

Representative Payee: Another individual act as the receiver of the United States Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income for a person who is not fully capable of managing their own benefits.

Power of Attorney: This option doesn’t require a court hearing. This option consists of a notarized document with specific reasons (medical, financial, etc.) stated, doesn’t require a court hearing, and the person with the disability retains authority to make decisions.

Limited Guardianship: Provides a guardian with decision-making authority and responsibility over only selected areas that the person has been determined by the court as unable to manage. For example, limited guardianship might only apply to health care decisions.

Conservatorship: An individual is appointed with decision-making authority to manage, protect, and preserve the protected person’s estate and finances.

For more information:

As youth move into adult life, it is important to be aware of the changes and supports available. This is true with everyone, but especially with youth who receive disability cash benefits from Social Security Administration. SS Benefits & Youth in Transition Training is available from Transition Liaisons upon request.

ABLE Accounts (Achieving Better Life Expectancy) – Learn what they are, what the funds in an ABLE account can be used for, and where to set up an ABLE account during this 60-minute webinar presented by an SD Benefits Specialist and a financial planner.

SSI Fast Facts

What are the eligibility requirements to get Social Security disability benefits?

Can I return to work while getting Social Security disability benefits?

Can children with disabilities get Social Security benefits?

How do I apply for Social Security disability benefits?

South Dakota Benefits Specialist Network

People with disabilities who want to learn about their disability benefits, and who are already working or ready to enter the workforce, can contact a Benefits Specialist to learn about benefits: Medicare, Medicaid, reporting income, and anything else related to working and managing benefits.

The mission of the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) is to ensure that people with developmental disabilities have equal opportunities and receive the services and supports they need to live and work in South Dakota communities.

Division of Developmental Disabilities Overview

Intervention and Support Specialists

Intervention and Support Specialists (formally Resource Coordinators)  help individuals with developmental disabilities and their families understand and access the services available through DDD, and connect with other resources available in their communities. Contacting one of them is your first step in accessing these services.

Service Options Available:

Community Support Providers (CSP) – 20 community support agencies in South Dakota provide residential, employment, and nursing care in a variety of settings.

Family Support 360 – Local programs which provide services coordination, companion care, personal care services, adaptive equipment, respite care, and employment services for individuals living with their family or in their own home.

Conflict-Free Case Management – Case Managers help develop an Individual Service Plan, focus on services and supports, create a person-center plan, and advocate for your child’s desired services.

Shared Living – The arrangement of services through shared living is provided in the private home of a participant, or a family, in which care is provided.