April 2018 AchievABLE Newsletter

The April 2018 issue of our AchievABLE Newsletter contains stories on the following:

New Webinar Open for Registration: Social Security’s Updated ABLE Guidance – A Deeper Dive

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently published updated guidance on the ABLE Act and ABLE Accounts. This guidance, formally known as their Program Operations Manuals System (POMS), provides in-depth information on how SSA staff, on the local and regional levels, should be interpreting and treating funds in an ABLE account for those individuals who are receiving Social Security Disability benefits, specifically beneficiaries of Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The purpose of this webinar is to assist individuals with disabilities and their families, providers, ABLE programs and all other ABLE-related stakeholders in better understanding this newly updated guidance. During the webinar, we will provide information and explanation on each of the seven sections that make up the SSA guidance.

ABLE National Resource Center Announces Inaugural ABLE Advisor Group

The ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) announced today the launch of its inaugural ABLE Advisory Group. The 9 Individuals in the first cohort consist of working-age adults with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities. The ABLE Advisors have a wide range of motivations for opening an ABLE account and short- and long-term financial goals for how funds in their accounts will be used to help them increase their health, independence and quality of life. The Advisors also represent a diverse selection of ABLE programs, types of disabilities, geographic locations, ages, gender, race and ethnicity.

The following individuals have been selected to serve as 2018 ABLE Advisors:

  • Larry Angeli – Farmington Hills, MI – Parent, Michigan MiABLE Program
  • Regina Bradley – Buffalo, MO – Parent, Missouri MO ABLE Program
  • Al Elia – Washington, D.C. – Massachusetts Attainable ABLE Program
  • Lauren Hughes – Caldwell, ID – Parent, Oregon ABLE for All Account Program
  • Rachel Mast – Olathe, KS – Kansas ABLE Program
  • Edward Mitchell – Jackson, TN – Tennessee TN ABLE Program
  • Kathryn Oliver – Austin, TX – Ohio STABLE Account Program
  • Sarah Perez – Norfolk, VA – Michigan MiABLE Program
  • Cheryl Walfall-Flagg – Raleigh, NC – Parent, NC ABLE Account Program

The role of the ABLE Advisors will be twofold. As the human face of ABLE, Advisors will be national spokespersons for ABLE accounts. ABLE accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts that have the potential to significantly increase the health, independence and quality of life of individuals with disabilities, without jeopardizing eligibility for benefits provided through programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Through sharing their experiences and stories as ABLE account holders, Advisors will impart knowledge of successful strategies for utilizing ABLE accounts to achieve personal goals to millions of ABLE-eligible individuals.

“ABLE accounts are a down payment on freedom for millions of individuals with disabilities and their families,” Christopher J. Rodriguez, Director of the ANRC, said. “Yet, public knowledge of ABLE accounts is somewhat lacking and enrollment in ABLE programs still has significant room for growth.”

Said Regina Bradley, the mother of two young children with Down syndrome, “I am saving for both of my children’s futures. I want my son and daughter to be able to live a comfortable life in their own homes when they are ready to be independent. I want to make sure they have the opportunity for reliable transportation to medical appointments and jobs. I also hope this will provide them the opportunity to travel, learn or take part in extracurricular activities.”

Kathryn Oliver, a self-advocate who has cerebral palsy, said, “I am currently using my ABLE account as a means to save for a down payment on a home. Additionally, as an ABLE Advisor, I want to serve as an example that people with disabilities can take an active role in their own futures. I hope that my knowledge and experiences can serve as a meaningful example to others, who may be unsure of the process around ABLE accounts.”

The launch of ANRC’s ABLE Advisory Group coincides with Financial Capability Month. This April observance, also commonly referred to as Financial Literacy Month, is a time for all Americans to increase their knowledge of personal finances and to encourage others to do the same. The ABLE Advisory Group was created to support the efforts of the ANRC in bridging this knowledge gap through the dissemination of timely and accurate information.

As a stakeholder focus group, ABLE Advisors will also provide feedback and recommendations on a number of ANRC items, including the AchievABLE app, the ANRC website, a new ANRC Call Center, ABLE webinars and more. Input gathered by the Advisors will mold the ANRC’s activities and provide an overall direction for its work.

ANRC Partners with the Deaf Community to Offer Information on ABLE in American Sign Language

The ANRC partnered with Deaf Future Works to release a video, done in American Sign Language (ASL), about “The 5 Things You Need to Know about ABLE.”

Webinar Archive Available: ABLE Program Spotlight Series Featuring the Oregon “ABLE for All” Program

A recording of March’s webinar “ABLE Program Spotlight Series Featuring Oregon’s ‘ABLE for All’ Program” is now available.

ABLE Case Summary Series Continues with “Maximizing the Use of an ABLE Account Without Jeopardizing a Range of Other Benefits”

The ANRC is pleased to continue the “ABLE Case Summary Series” with our latest profile. The purpose of this series is to help ABLE-related stakeholders, including current and future account holders, better understand how an ABLE account can complement other strategies to improve health, independence and quality of life. ABLE Case Summaries will be released periodically throughout 2018.

The second in this six-part Case Summary Series explores the impact of an ABLE account on key federally-authorized benefits (beyond Social Secruity disability benefits): Maximizing Use of ABLE w/o Jeopardizing Other Benefit.