Meet our 2018 ABLE NRC Ambassadors

Sarah Perez

ABLE Account Owner
Norfolk, VA
ABLE Program: MiABLE Program

Sarah Perez is saving for transportation, continuing education classes, her YMCA Membership and art supplies.


Sarah Perez in front of computer smiling
Sarah Perez at Courage event

Sarah Perez uses funds in her ABLE account to pay for gasoline and maintenance on her car to get to volunteering obligations, to buy art supplies for mixed media collages, to purchase her YMCA membership and to take adult enrichment classes. These activities improve her quality of life and help her manage her mental health. Sarah opened her ABLE account in 2017 to help pay hospital and medical bills that stemmed from surgeries related to the neurological condition Psuedotumor Cerebri and bipolar disorder. Funds in her ABLE account allow her to save money without jeopardizing her Social Security benefits. Sarah is relieved that she no longer has to struggle to find money for co-payments, travel costs to doctor’s offices, medications and more. In her role as an ABLE Advisor, Sarah wants to educate others about the ABLE Act so that they may have the same opportunities that she has had since she became an ABLE account holder.

Sarah Perez’s Highlight from the October 2018 AchievABLE Newsletter

Sarah Perez, 36, is a mixed-media artist building her small business. An ABLE account owner with the Michigan ABLE Program, MiABLE, she is ABLE-eligible due to a mental health disability. Sarah and her parents are contributing to her ABLE account to improve her overall quality of life.

While Sarah lives in Michigan now, she wasn’t living in Michigan when her mom helped her open up her ABLE account two years ago. Due to a series of events that seemed unfortunate at the time, a change in her relationship status and not meeting eligibility for needed benefits in the state she had been living in, Sarah decided to move back home to the Irish Hills area of Michigan. She’s really happy with this move and feels she has turned a corner in her life. It’s been the definition of crisis turning into opportunity. Her parents and extended family, who are incredibly supportive, still live in the area. Sarah has fully re-engaged with her hometown, spending time at the lake and being active in the social scene. She is volunteering with a local Girl Scout troop and also running for election this fall for a position on the school board.

A major weight is being lifted off her shoulders now that Sarah is finally in a position to get out debt! She’s on a payment plan and making good progress paying down some large medical bills that weren’t covered in her previous state of residence. Her ABLE account is the vehicle she is using to make all of this happen. She’s also using her ABLE account to offset medication costs moving forward, in addition to using her account to build her photography business. The ABLE funds she invests in her business (e.g. purchasing equipment, exhibiting at local arts events) will give her the ability to earn and put more money back into her ABLE account. Sarah has also been in job search mode for a day job while she gets her photography business off the ground. Such is the life of the artist!

Sarah is being smart about building her business and her day job exploration. Understanding that earnings will have an impact on her benefits, Sarah has met with a certified benefits advisor to better understand the work incentives and supports she can access through SSA’s Ticket to Work program. Her job search and trips to her benefits advisor are supported by her ABLE account, which helps her pay for gas to and from these activities. Sarah is working hard, being smart and having fun on her path to achieving a better life experience.

“I want everyone to have an ABLE account who is eligible. For me, it was a way to get out of debt in a way that was stress free. Plus, you don’t have to contribute a lot to it, but whatever you contribute is well taken care of and you know it’s there if you need it.” – Sarah Perez

The ABLE National Resource Center is proud to have Sarah as one of our 2018 ABLE Advisors.

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