Legislation to extend financial support for adult children with disabilities passes Assembly

Today, legislation that aims to aid families and dependent adult children who have surpassed the age of majority for child support but have developmental disabilities that necessitate a living allowance passed the Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill is carried by Assemblymembers Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) and Mary Beth Walsh (R,C,I-Ballston) in the Assembly.

Currently, 40 states have provisions allowing custodial parents to pursue child support after age 21 for adult children with disabilities, including the neighboring states of New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which have all passed similar legislation. States differ as to whether support for an adult disabled child is determined by the state’s child support guidelines or by the needs of the child as balanced by the parents’ ability to provide support.

“It is incredibly challenging for families to provide the best possible support and services for their children and adult-children with developmental disabilities, even more so in a single-parent living situation,” said Walsh. “Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a divorce to occur in a household with a child who is differently-abled. However, just because the age of majority has been reached does not mean that the child no longer needs support. This legislation aims to extend the responsibility for both parents in order to ensure that the day-to-day needs of their dependent, adult-child continue to be met.

“I am grateful to my good friend for bringing this idea to my attention, and to Assemblymember Woerner for working with me to get it to the Assembly floor for a vote. I encourage our colleagues in the Senate to join us in passing this common-sense legislation and hope that we can get it to the governor’s desk this year.”

This bill would provide support magistrates with the discretion to continue support until the age of 26, in the form of an allowance, when the child has mental or physical disabilities and cannot support him/herself at the state’s “age of majority.”

The legislation is written to ensure that any and all other services that are available to these individuals and their families are not jeopardized. This change allows the support payments to the payee’s New York Achieving a Better Life (NY ABLE) account or directly to a third party. Support payments will not affect benefits provided through Medicaid, SSI, SSDI, private insurance and other sources, and will be exempt from tax on its earnings and distributions, provided the funds are used to pay for qualified disability expenses.

“The needs of dependent children with developmental or physical disabilities do not simply disappear when they reach age 21,” said Woerner. “This legislation will enable single parents of adult-children with a disability which prevents them from adequately caring for themselves to pursue continued child support up until the age of 26. This is a common-sense proposal, supported by 55 bipartisan co-sponsors and advocates, that has now passed the Assembly twice and I urge our colleagues in the Senate to pass it as well.”

“A disabled child does not stop needing care and support at 21. Both parents should provide that care: emotional, physical and financial,” said advocate for the legislation Eileen Riley-Hall.

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