Saturday, October 28, 2017

Hello everyone, and welcome to our blog!

As family members, friends, colleagues and peers of individuals with disabilities, we have long been aware of the ABLE account and the ways in which it can allow individuals with disabilities save for the future, and live full, rewarding, financially secure lives. Here at Integrated Living Opportunities (ILO), we have written quite frequently on the ABLE account and the ways in which we feel it is a beneficial addition to the special needs planning toolkit.

Today, we would like to revisit the ABLE account, and share with you some exciting news. As written on the Maryland529 website, “On September 6th, the Maryland Board of Public Works and the Maryland 529 Board approved an intergovernmental purchasing agreement through the State of Oregon with Sumday Administration, LLC. Set to launch by the end of 2017, this newly established partnership places Maryland among a select group of states offering ABLE plans across the nation.”

At ILO we are very excited about the soon-to-be-available ABLE accounts, and the ways in which these accounts will enrich the lives of and provide financial security for ILO self-advocates. Please join us for a quick summary of the ABLE account, and ILO’s plans to help our community group members take advantage of this important financial savings tool.

The ABLE Account – A Brief Summary

The ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act is a piece of legislation that allows individuals with disabilities to open special savings accounts for disability-related expenses. This legislation, which builds on the already existing 529 college savings accounts, ensures that all funds in this account can grow tax free as long as the funds are used for qualifying expenses. Examples include: education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology and personal support services, health, prevention, and wellness, financial management and administrative services, legal fees, expenses for oversight and monitoring, funeral and burial expenses, and any other disability-related expenses approved under regulations.

Perhaps the most important feature of the ABLE Accounts is this: funds in these accounts will not affect an individual’s eligibility for government benefits. This account is intended to supplement, not supplant, federal benefits and benefits paid through Medicaid, private insurance, and employment. Anyone or any entity – friend, relative, business, corporation, etc. – can contribute to this account, while the owner of the account (a.k.a. the beneficiary) retains control and ownership of all assets in the account.

As mentioned, the ABLE Account is only available to eligible individuals with disabilities; in order to be considered eligible for the ABLE Account the individual must have developed their disability before the age of 26, and must have been living with this disability for at least one year (or will expect the disability to last for at least one year). In addition, the individual must be entitled to either SSI or SSDI due to their disability, and be able to file a disability certification.

ILO’s Community Group Can Help You Obtain an ABLE Account

Recently, ILO launched a new community-building initiative, ILO Community Group. This group is unique, all-ages, and members only. It is designed to help self-advocates and their families participate in the ILO community, and learn about ILO’s community building philosophies, even if the self-advocate isn’t quite ready to actively prepare for independent living or participate in ILO’s full training program.

One of the many benefits of joining community group is access to our Family Workshops. This workshop series is designed to provide families with the information and tools needed to make the right decisions at every step of the special needs journey. Our first Family Workshop/ILO Community event will be focused on Maryland’s ABLE program.

This ABLE event is intended to provide attendees with an overview of the Maryland ABLE program, as well as help people sign up for the ABLE while attending. ILO will be providing materials, advice, and will be available to help people establish their ABLE accounts on-site, with representatives from ABLE in Baltimore also available to answer questions. Attending this event – which is available only for ILO Community Group members – is an excellent way to learn first-hand from ABLE representatives about the program, ask questions, gain a clear understanding of the benefits, and go through the process of establishing an account under the guidance of experts.

If you would like to attend this event, please check out our Community Group webpage for information on how to join.

Thanks for visiting our blog!

Thank you for taking the time to visit our website today. We hope that you will take the time to research the ABLE accounts thoroughly (if you haven’t done so already) and learn of all the ways in which the ABLE account can help you save for the future of your family member with disabilities. We also hope that you take a moment to check out our Community Group – we would love to add you to the ILO network!

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