Meet our Current ABLE NRC Ambassadors

Amy Tessler

Parent of son with autism
Oakland, CA
ABLE Program: Ohio (Plans to transfer to CalABLE)

Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Dale Law Firm. Son, Scott, has an internship at the Double Tree Hotel in Pleasanton, CA. through Project Search. ABLE funds are being used pay for Scott’s full share of “in kind support and maintenance” expenses in order to maximize SSI payout. Son also has a SNT.

Amy Tessler's son Scott at Special Olympics
Amy Tessler's son Scott interview day at Double Tree
Amy Tessler husband and son, Scott

Amy Tessler’s Highlight from the April 2019 AchievABLE Newsletter

Amy Tessler is the mother of Scott, a 23-year-old member of the Project Search Team at the DoubleTree Hotel in Pleasanton, California. Scott was diagnosed on the autism spectrum when he was two years old. He has a significant disability which meets the criteria for ABLE eligibility.

In 2018, Amy and her husband/Scott’s father, Steve, spent a total of 15 minutes opening Scott’s Ohio STABLE account using their online application. They plan to take advantage of the free and easy rollover offered to all ABLE account owners and to switch to the CalABLE program in California, their home state, once the debit card option is in place. The CalABLE program opened in December 2018, and the debit card is on track to launch during the summer of 2019.

As one of our nine 2019 ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) Ambassadors, Amy shares that by paying for Scott’s full share of housing expenses with his Supplemental Security Income (SSI) check, wages and supplemental funds from his ABLE account, Scott’s SSI payment is not reduced by one third. This means that he has an additional $257 dollars available each month, which is an extra $3,084 a year!. Amy wants to share this strategy with other parents because who wouldn’t bend over to pick up over $3,000 laying on the sidewalk? However, putting this strategy in place takes slightly more effort than that.

Amy is not only an ABLE NRC Ambassador and Scott’s mom, guardian and conservator. She also serves as the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Dale Law Firm, a practice focused on developing estate plans that involve persons with disabilities. After retiring from a 26-year career as an industrial engineer, Amy found a role in the same law firm that set up Scott’s Special Needs Trust (SNT) when he was 10 years old.

The SNT was established to provide direction for Scott’s safety and emotional well-being in case of an unexpected event in the future. The trust will be the primary source of his support, in addition to means-tested public benefits such as the SSI and Medicaid he currently receives. He may become entitled to Child Disability Benefits and Medicare once Amy and Steve retire. Scott’s younger sister, Jenna, will be able to enjoy her brother and will not be burdened by financial stressors related to his disability and expenses for his ongoing support because the combination of his SNT, ABLE account and other public benefits will ensure that Scott’s future is secure.

Amy has been very strategic in her approach. To learn more and to help Scott reach his full potential, Amy is attending workshops in person and accessing the ANRC regularly. She sums it all up by sharing,“Scott will always need help managing money and paying his bills. It would not be prudent to give him access to a large amount of money, but having the ABLE account will allow him to gain some basic financial skills. In our situation, having both the SNT and an ABLE account is ideal for maximizing his benefits and helping him achieve some financial independence.”