High school students with Individual Education Plans and 504 Plans may be eligible for government-funded programs and services. Most of these offerings will be available to persons with documented disabilities after they exit high school but some individuals may be able to access services before they leave school.  In either case, students and families should understand the options and how to apply for them well in advance of the child’s final year in school.

Many students are provided programs, services and assistive technology that enable them to access education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  Often the student and their parents are unaware that these supports do not transfer over to their lives post-high school.  Once students leave high school, they enter into the adult services world.  While some students may receive programs, services and assistance similar to those they experienced in school, they will need to apply for these things.  Determinations of eligibility are based on needs related to post-hi
gh school goals as well as functioning levels.  The financial situation of the applicant and the requirements of the funding sources also play an important part in these eligibility determinations.

There are several government-funded organizations that provide direct services to students, adults and families.  Some of these groups also fund community agencies that provide a myriad of services to eligible individuals, ranging from college tuition support to day habilitation programs and much more.  A brief description of the primary organizations is included below. For more detailed information about eligibility requirements and services offered, visit websites that are provided below.

Independent Living Centers (ILCs) – These advocacy centers are available to anyone with a disability. Services vary from center to center but most ILCs provide benefits counseling, peer counseling, housing information and budgeting support.

  • Putnam: Putnam Independent Living Services www.putnamils.org (845-228-7457)
  • Rockland: Rockland Independent Living Center www.rilc.org (845-624-1366)
  • Westchester: Westchester Disabled on the Move www.wdom.org
    (914-968-4717) and Westchester Independent Living Center www.wilc.org (914-682-3926)

Adult Career and Continuing Education Services – Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) – This state agency provides job placement assistance and funding for training and education as needed to achieve employment goals.  Applicants must be eligible to work in the United States and be a resident of New York.  Applicants must also produce documentation of a physical or mental disability.

Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) – OPWDD provides access to people with developmental disabilities through a regional system dividing the State into sections which are overseen by Developmental Disabilities Services Offices (DDSOs).  Eligibility determination is based upon several factors including disability, age of onset and ability to function.

  • www.opwdd.ny.gov
  • Putnam: Taconic Developmental Disability Services Office (845-877-6821)
  • Rockland and Westchester: Hudson Valley DDSO (845-947-6000)

Office of Mental Health (OMH) – This organization provides direct care as well as funding for vendor-authorized services for children and adults who have psychiatric diagnoses.  Adult services include but are not limited to vocational assistance, service coordination, housing, residential programs, day programs, social programs, mentally ill chemically addicted (MICA) programs and more.

  • www.omh.state.ny.us
  • Putnam: Putnam County DSS and Mental Health (845-225-7040)
  • Rockland: Rockland County Department of Mental Health (845-364-2370)
  • Westchester: Westchester County Mental Health Department (914-995-5236)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Medicaid – SSI provides monthly payments to people with low income and limited resources.  Students should apply just prior to their 18th birthday.  For specifics on who may be eligible, visit the website. Persons who are eligible for SSI are automatically eligible for Medicaid.  These are important qualifiers as they enable persons to receive many services offered through the organizations listed above.  Information about who may receive SSDI payments is also detailed on the website.