January/February 2021 AchievABLE™ Newsletter

The January/February issue of our AchievABLE™ Newsletter contains stories on the following:


ABLE NRC Outreach to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Communities in 2021

The ABLE National Resource Center (ABLE NRC) is pleased to announce the launch of our 2021 ABLE NRC BIPOC Ambassador program and the opportunity for four more BIPOC ABLE account owners to join our initiative. We will be working to increase awareness and engagement around ABLE accounts among minority populations who experience higher rates of poverty at the intersection of race and disability.  With the help of our BIPOC Ambassadors who are ABLE account owners and family members within BIPOC communities, we feel confident that 2021 will be the year that more BIPOC individuals and families will experience the benefit of tax-advantaged ABLE savings accounts.

Here is what some of our BIPOC Ambassadors say about the work we will be doing together:

Davinna Christian’s son Dushon has Sickle Cell Disease and is an ABLE account owner. She shares that, “I am working on BIPOC outreach for ABLE NRC because it is important for families to have options regarding saving money for disabled individuals and not have to worry about interfering with disability income (SSI, SSDI) as well as being able to use saved funds for items that are needed and not covered by insurance. It is also important for minorities to know that ABLE accounts exist and they do not have as many rules attached to them as trusts might have and, most importantly, ABLE funds can be used immediately if needed. I will be working to make families with Sickle Cell Disease more aware and engaged with ABLE accounts because this is an underrepresented group for many things in the disability world. There are 100,000 people living with Sickle Cell Disease in America and this is a group that is big in numbers, but small in resources.”

ABLE account owner and mixed-media artist, Sarah Perez, shares that, “As a BIPOC person, I know there can be barriers to many things. And being disabled only adds to those struggles. While working to spread awareness of ABLE accounts in organizations that service BIPOC communities in the Greater Cleveland Area, I hope to let people know that ABLE is a wonderful tool for saving money for disabled BIPOC; it is an easier barrier to break through.”

Edward Mitchell, an ABLE account owner who used his ABLE funds to pay for an accessible van that he will be getting later this month, shares that, “I’m working on BIPOC outreach for ABLE NRC because, when I was initiated into the first black fraternity in the U.S.  – Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. by way of the Beta PI chapter at Lane College (one of the oldest historically black colleges) in 2009, it is a lifelong brotherhood for leaders. The mission statement of the fraternity reads: ’To develop leaders, promote brotherhood and academic excellence, while providing service and advocacy for our communities.’ In order for me to make good on that mission, I have to find ways to implement it and give back to others. Joining ABLE NRC’s BIPOC Ambassadors I believe exhibits what it means to be a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity Inc. Additionally, I will push the ABLE BIPOC initiative with the Tennessee Statewide Independent Living Council. I am currently on my last year under my first governor appointment to the Council and will be able to leverage those resources of the executive council, as well as the six Centers for Independent Living throughout the state of Tennessee.”

Disability Rights Advocate, Hector Ramirez, purchased a home in 2019 with ABLE account savings after battling homelessness for decades. He shares that, “I’m working on BIPOC outreach because these past couple of years, in order to survive, my BIPOC community and I have had to move from a stance of resistance to one of solidarity. ABLE accounts for me, as a person with a disability, has meant equity. But, equity is also about accountability. The truth is that COVID-19 has had the worst health and economic outcomes on disabled peopled and BIPOC communities. That is why I am doing outreach to the BIPOC community to help give people not just one more way to survive, but a way to move forward and lean into each other during this pandemic, in unity.”

Cheryl Walfall-Flagg works with Head Start and Re-Thinking Guardianship, and her young adult son Sean is an ABLE account owner. She shares that, “Since I learned about ABLE accounts five years ago, I have been telling people about this financial support tool because I want to help folks build that sense of security for themselves or loved ones. Current concerns related to the pandemic, and political and social justice issues, makes it seem irrelevant to discuss saving money. However, these issues are connected and it is important to highlight the real benefits of an ABLE account for all persons with a disability, and even more so in communities that do not normally save money, or get information on financial literacy or know how to build generational financial independence.”

Timothy Elliot is a disabled veteran who works with the Office of Home and Community Living with New York’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Program. He mentors individuals with disabilities and teaches them how to advocate for themselves. One year into his naval career he became paralyzed from the shoulders down. Along with physical and mental struggles of living with a disability, he found financial instability another obstacle. He works with people with developmental disabilities and disabled veterans to help them become more aware and engaged with ABLE accounts. He shared that “many of them are being stifled by fear of being penalized for improving their financial situation or lack of trust of programs that aren’t the traditional services or programs that are available.”

Now that you have heard from our first six ABLE NRC BIPOC Ambassadors, stay tuned for the work we will be doing together and consider applying to join our team.

2021 BIPOC Ambassadors

 

BIPOC Ambassador Application

If you are an ABLE account owner or have a family member with an ABLE account and you are a leader in your BIPOC community, we invite you to apply to become a member of the ABLE NRC BIPOC Ambassador program.

The BIPOC workgroup meets monthly to brainstorm and collaborate outreach strategies for ABLE NRC and to work on as a group. Individual members work with ABLE NRC leadership to identify opportunities and activities for outreach utilizing their networks. ABLE NRC will provide a $500 stipend into the ABLE accounts of BIPOC Ambassadors or their family members upon completion of our 2021 work.

The application is due by 6:00 p.m. E.T. on Friday, February 28.

Apply to be an Ambassador

 

Your Organization Can Join “America Saves Week” in February

America Saves Week, February 22-26, 2021, is a widely recognized national campaign where thousands of organizations join together to collectively encourage their communities to focus on their individual financial wellness. Over the course of a week, America Saves will cover money-related topics from a relatable, down-to-earth, positive perspective. Savers end the week with tools, resources, and clarity on their current financial situation, new savings goals and a realistic plan to achieve them.

The America Saves pledge is the central tool that allows savers to set a goal, and make a plan to achieve better financial stability. You can take the America Saves Pledge for a chance to enter the annual #ImSavingFor Sweepstakes and win up to $500! The America Saves Week Digital Toolkit 2021 offers tips and resources to help you reach your savings goals.

Each day of America Saves Week has its own theme: Save Automatically, Save for the Unexpected, Save to Retire, Save by Reducing Debt and Save as a Family.

Who can participate?

America Saves Week participating organizations represent a diverse and impressive coalition of companies, nonprofits, educational institutions, military services, influencers, government agencies and financial institutions. Visit the America Saves Week 2021 website to sign up and be recognized as a participating organization.

 

AchievABLE™ Top 3 Questions: January/February 2021

1. If I receive economic relief payments, can I save this money in my ABLE account?

Yes! If  you are eligible for the economic relief payments, you can save all or part of the payment in your ABLE account so long as your contributions for 2021 have not exceeded the contribution limit as of the contribution date. The contribution limits are different for individuals who do not work and for some individuals who work. If you are receiving extended unemployment compensation benefits, these benefits may also be contributed into your ABLE account. You can learn more about the new COVID-19 economic relief package at the National Disability Institute Financial Resilience Center.

2. Will I receive any ABLE-related tax forms from my program?

People who have an ABLE account may receive a copy of form (1099-QA) from their ABLE program to report distributions from their ABLE account to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The ABLE program may also send a copy of form (5498-QA) which they file with the IRS for reporting ABLE contributions. Hold these forms along with receipts for your qualified disability expense (QDE) purchases for the calendar year for three tax filing seasons in case the IRS conducts an audit. Note: ABLE account owners are not required to file income taxes simply because they own an ABLE account.

3. In most months, my income is higher than my expenses and, even though I would love to save money in an ABLE account, I rarely have extra income to save. I thought people who received SSI and/or SSDI were not allowed to work so are there any strategies for finding income to save in an ABLE account?

There is good news! Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), including childhood disability beneficiaries and disabled widow(er) beneficiaries, are encouraged to work to their fullest ability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides work supports to help people keep their benefits, including their medical benefits, while working. WISE information events provide general information. In addition, a beneficiary who is ready to work, or who is working, may request free benefits counseling to learn which work supports can help them to save more in their ABLE account. There are even more work supports and services for youth ages 14 to 21.  Earnings may be saved in the ABLE account!

In addition, in 2021, some ABLE account owners who work may save over the annual contribution limit which is currently $15,000. The additional amount that can be saved depends on the account owner’s state of residence:

  • $12,760 for residents of the continental U.S.A. or
  • $14,680 for residents of Hawaii or
  • $15,950 for residents of Alaska

The additional amount is based upon the account owner’s earnings or the amounts shown above, whichever is less. For example, a person who works and earns $5,000 and deposited $2,500 into their ABLE account from their earnings, who then loses their job and receives unemployment insurance of $10,000, may deposit earnings and unemployment of up to $5,000 into their ABLE account for the calendar year. Additional contributions totaling up to $15,000 may also be deposited directly into the ABLE account from family, friends, a trust or a 529 college savings account. Read the ABLE to Work Act rules for more guidance.

Earned income, ABLE contributions and expenses may qualify people for tax credits which result in tax savings or a refund. Register for the ABLE NRC webinar, “IRS Final ABLE Regulations and Tax Incentives,” on February 25, 2021 from 2:00-3:15 p.m. ET. Register for the webinar.

 

Upcoming Webinar: “IRS Final ABLE Regulations and Tax Incentives: Leveraging Your ABLE Savings”

Join ABLE NRC and the IRS for our February Webinar where we will be covering ABLE accounts and Tax Time Tips.

Webinar Date and Time: Thursday, February 25th 2:00 – 3:15 p.m. ET

Webinar Overview: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published the final regulations for the ABLE Act in the federal register under Section 529a of the IRS code in November 2020. Join us to learn how the regulations provide guidance to ABLE plans regarding ABLE and how you may maximize your ABLE savings and qualify for tax credits which may result in tax savings. Join the ABLE National Resource Center and the IRS for timely information.

  • Review key IRS regulations regarding ABLE accounts
  • Utilize tax incentives to build your ABLE savings
  • Learn more about free tax filing options

Webinar Presenters:

  • Don Dill, IRS Senior Tax Analyst with SPEC Headquarters will provide an introduction and overview;
  • Miranda Kennedy, Director, ABLE National Resource Center; and
  • Laurie Schaller, Manager, Financial Empowerment, National Disability Institute

Please share this registration link with your customers and network: http://bit.ly/3cKaZdS.

Please note: Real-time captioning will be provided for this webinar. For other accommodation requests, questions about the webinar, or the registration process, please contact info@ablenrc.org.

All ABLE NRC webinars are archived for future viewing. Feel free to share with family, friends and your customers.

Register for the Webinar

 

ABLE Updates

  • In December 2020, AKF Market Report provided an update on the trends, developments and opportunities for growth across Achieving A Better Life Experience Act plans in their publication: ABLE America 2020: States Capitalize on Opportunities for Success.
  • According to ISS Market Intelligence, the ABLE market had 82,019 accounts that invested $643 million in assets in ABLE (529A) accounts during 4Q 2020 (December).
  • The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) article: “ABLE Accounts for People with Disabilities Are a Timely Benefit.”
  • Enter the LifeCents New Year Sweepstakes: National Disability Institute’s (NDI) Financial Resilience Center (FRC) is giving away a $100 Visa gift card to three lucky LifeCents users that complete the LifeCents New Year Wellness Check-in by February 14, 2021. It’s simple! Login to your LifeCents account and the Sweepstakes will be on your dashboard. New to LifeCents? Then create an account and you’ll be ready to go. Enter the Sweepstakes. No purchase necessary. A purchase or payment of any kind will not increase your chances of winning. Read the Sweepstakes Rules.

 

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