Goodell Backs Living Allowance Legislation

State Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, has backed a piece of legislation that would establish a living allowance for adults with developmental disabilities.

A. 6658A was approved by the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, 21-0, on June 4.

Goodell and Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, are co-sponsors of the legislation while Goodell voted in favor of the legislation as a member of the Judiciary Committee.

The proposal would help 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.

Such an award would be at the discretion of Family Court so long as the individual has been diagnosed with a developmental disability from a list that includes, but isn’t limited to, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, neurological impairment, familial dysautonomia, prader-willi syndrome, or autism; or is attributable to any other condition of a person found to be closely related to intellectual disability because such condition results in similar impairment of general intellectual functioning or adaptive behavior to that of intellectually disabled persons or requires treatment and services similar to those required for such person.

Some dyslexia diagnoses would also qualify.

Adults would be eligible if the disability originates before the person is 22 years old, if the disability has continued or can be expected to continue indefinitely and constitutes a substantial handicap to a person’s ability to function normally in society.

The age of majority is the legal age established by state law which defines that an individual is no longer a minor, and as a young adult, is granted the right and responsibility to make certain legal choices that adults make.

In some states, someone is considered an adult at the age of 18 or when they graduate high school while other states extend the age of majority until the age of 21.

“Currently 40 states have provisions allowing custodial parents to pursue child support after age 21 for adult children with disabilities,” said Carrie Woerner, a Democrat from Round Lake who is sponsoring the legislation in the bill’s legislative justification.

“Our neighboring states New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island all passed such 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.

Families with dependent, adult-children with developmental disabilities, face numerous challenges in providing necessary support for their loved ones. These challenges can at times become overwhelming, especially when they are being faced by a single parent trying to provide the best life they can for their child. It is the responsibility of both parents to assist in the expenses that occur while assisting an adult-child with developmental disabilities, and we must help ensure these families achieve the lives they have always wanted for themselves and their child. This legislation aims to provide families with the assistance they need in order to offer the life their loved ones deserve.”

The bill has never been proposed before and lists no financial implications. It was amended and recommitted by the state Senate’s Children and Families Committee. No floor votes in either chamber have been scheduled.