SD Network

Category: ABLE Accounts

States have lots of flexibility on what they can use the extra $12.67 billion for Medicaid home-and-community-based services on. The funding is part of the American Rescue Plan. States can use the money for everything from getting people off waiting lists to increasing wages for caregivers. Funding must be used to “supplement, not supplant” existing services, the guidance states, meaning that it has to be spent on home and community-based services that were not available under the Medicaid program as of April 1.

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Today, the ABLE National Resource Center (ABLE NRC) released the new ABLE Employer Toolkit. The toolkit consists of resources for employers to share with employees impacted by the additional and often significant expenses that can be associated with having a disability. Toolkit items are downloadable and free of charge.

Even with a well-paying job, employees who have a disability, or employees who support family members who have a disability, often face significant costs to maintain health, independence and quality of life. ABLE accounts are key to “Achieving a Better Life Experience” for your employees with disabilities and their families. An ABLE account can be used to support your employees’ ability to work and to increase their productivity, which results in a diverse, valued and productive workforce. The ABLE Employer Toolkit can help you understand and integrate ABLE into your employee benefits program to support their success in work and life.

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The ABLE National Resource Center (ABLE NRC) is the leading, comprehensive source of objective, independent information about federal- and state-related ABLE programs and activities, including guidance on tax-advantaged ABLE savings accounts. Our mission is to educate, promote and support the positive impact ABLE can make on the lives of millions of Americans with disabilities and their families. 

The ABLE National Resource Center is seeking to identify ABLE account owners to participate as ABLE NRC Ambassadors in 2020. This will be our third cohort of ABLE Ambassadors. Click on the following links to learn more about our 2019 ABLE Ambassadors and our ABLE NRC Ambassador/Advisor Alumni.

We are looking for parents/guardians and working-age adults with disabilities that represent a diversity of experiences in terms of their reasons for opening an account, their short- and long-term financial goals related to the account, and how they hope the account will help increase their health, independence, and/or quality of life.

We are also looking for diversity represented by selection and participation in different state ABLE programs, type of disability, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity.

ABLE NRC Ambassadors receive a $500 contribution to their ABLE account at the end of the year, based on full participation in the Ambassador program. This includes all meetings, regularly scheduled interviews and submission of pictures that will be used to define the ABLE experience.

Applications due November  8th.  Apply today!

New data shows far fewer people have opened  ABLE accounts than are needed to ensure viability of the program.  Created under a 2014 federal law, ABLE accounts enable people with disabilities to save up to $100,000 without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government benefits. Less than 35,000 ABLE accounts were opened as of the end of 2018, and 450,00 need to be  opened  by June of 2021 in  order to self-sustainability and continue to offer ABLE plans with low fees.

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Federal officials are looking closer at how money is being spent in ABLE accounts.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently issued guidance to public housing officials across the country clarifying how they should treat funds accrued in ABLE accounts.

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New legislation, known as the ABLE Adjustment Act, would make ABLE accounts accessible to thousands of more people.  Currently, individuals with disabilities that onset by age 26 qualify.  This new Act would move the age to 46.  ABLE accounts allow people with disabilities to save up to $100,00 without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government benefits. 

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With a change taking effect this year, individuals with disabilities can save more money than ever before without losing out on Social Security, Medicaid and other government benefits.  People with  disabilities can  now  put up to $27,140 in an ABLE account per year.  In addition, the IRS indicated that workers with disabilities who have ABLE accounts can now qualify for a Saver’s Credit.

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A lack of accessible restrooms on planes, sensory overload of going through crowds, and security screening are only some of the things that can make air travel difficult for people with disabilities. To help with this, there will be an "Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights" developed.  President Trump recently signed legislation around airline passengers with disabilities. This includes disability training for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees and increased fines for harm to passengers with disabilities or damage to wheelchairs. TSA has to change its training for screening passengers with disabilities. TSA must also have new rules about service animals on planes. The legislation even looks at accessibility best practices for airports and allowing in-cabin wheelchair restraints in the future.

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Disability advocates fear that without a major change ABLE accounts could be unsustainable.  ABLE accounts allow people with disabilities to save up to $100,000 without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government benefits. Medicaid can be retained no matter how much money is in the accounts.  According to many advocacy groups, ABLE programs across  the country are in desperate need of more account holders.  It's  estimated that 390,000 accounts are needed by June 2021 in order for ABLE programs to reach “bare bones sustainability.”  Disability advocates are pressuring Congress to pass the ABLE Age Adjustment Act before the end of the year in hopes that it will increase numbers.

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In 2016, Administration for Community Living's Administration on Aging contracted ICF International to conduct a participatory evaluation of the Title VI Grant Program, which provides home and community-based supportive services for older American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian populations.

The evaluation seeks to answer the following questions:

- How do tribes/organizations operate their Title VI Programs?
-  What is the impact of Title VI programs on elders in the community? Are there differences nationally or by tribe/organization?
- Do Title VI programs that are sole-sourced funded have a different impact than programs that are funded through multiple sources?

The evaluation, still ongoing, has released its Evaluation of the ACL Title VI Programs: Year 1 Interim Report outlining the approach to and the design of the evaluation. In addition, the report provides information on the evaluation participants, timeline of the project, and initial findings.

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