FYI, the Institute on Community Integration Staff Newsletter

February 2015

RTC Co-Sponsors Forum on Transition to Retirement by People with Disabilities

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are living longer than ever before, but there is no formal system in place to guide them in the transition to retirement or to a meaningful life as an older person. Consequently, this transition can cause anxiety for people with disabilities and their families. The Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC) at the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) is raising this issue in Minnesota, most recently at a forum that it co-sponsored in Brooklyn Center last month. Led by Roger Stancliffe, a professor/researcher of intellectual disability at the University of Sydney, Australia, it brought together disability advocates and service providers to learn about an approach to this transition that he and his colleagues pioneered in Australia, an approach that might be adapted to serve aging Minnesotans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program is called Transition to Retirement (TTR).

Transition to Retirement provides tools to help advocacy and service provider organizations to support people with disabilities to develop new interests, skills, and social networks as they move toward life as aging adults. “The program involves older people with intellectual and developmental disabilities gradually developing an active, socially-inclusive retirement lifestyle while still working at least part time,” says Roger.

There are six steps in TTR carried out by service providers and advocacy organizations working with individuals with disabilities:

  1. Identify people with disabilities in their late 40s or older who work less than full time and introduce them to their service provider’s TTR coordinator.

  2. Plan a retirement lifestyle based on the individual’s preferences and abilities.

  3. Locate a suitable community social/recreational group that meets at least weekly and schedule a site visit for the person with the disability and the TTR coordinator.

  4. Map a new routine by gradually reducing the individual’s workdays, with the coordinator providing initial support on travel, group activities, and social support.

  5. Recruit and train mentors at the community group who volunteer to support the person with the disability to be an active, participating member of the group.

  6. Monitor progress and offer ongoing support indefinitely. Hold annual retirement planning meetings to review progress and plan additional retirement activities.

Thirty service providers attended the forum, which was sponsored by Arc Minnesota and Living Well Disability Services, in addition to the RTC. Beth Fondell, RTC’s contact on TTR, said RTC is planning a listserv to facilitate an ongoing community conversation about retirement planning for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Minnesota, and to provide networking opportunities and discussion boards for those who attended the TTR forum and interested others. To be added to the listserv, or learn more about TTR in Minnesota, contact Beth Fondell at 612-624-6830 or

ICI’s Carol Ely interviewed Roger about TTR for the RTC’s Web site Self-Advocacy Online, and that interview, which explains the program for an audience that includes self-advocates, can be found at In addition, Transition to Retirement (2013), the manual that Roger co-wrote with his Australian colleagues, can be purchased from the RTC’s Paul Thorson at 612-624-6328 or