Eric: Well, hello and good afternoon, everyone on behalf of the National Association of State Treasurers. Many of our partners and our teammates like to welcome everyone to our first Able today webinar. We also wanna make sure that we acknowledge a couple housekeeping things. So thank you to our two hardworking interpreters.
I want to thank you again for all the work you’ll be doing over the next hour. On behalf of the National Association of State Treasurers earlier this year, we launched a new national platform for outreach and awareness on able accounts to support all able programs. The national initiative is called ABLEToday.
And while we just launched last month, our co-partner in all this, which helped to make all of this possible, is Sara Hart Weir who’s joining us today and Mark Raymond Jr. from New Orleans. He’s a disability advocate proud to be part of his team as well. And then from NAST. We have the director of Cal Abel, which is California’s Able program and the staff person for the state treasurer of California, Fiona, who is the current chair of the NA network.
So I wanna thank Dante, Mark and Sara for being here today. For anyone that isn’t using ASL interpretation, we also have live transcription available. And with that, I wanna turn it over to Sara Hart Weir to introduce our other partners and we’ll get started in our program.
Sara: Great. Thank you, Eric. Really excited to not only mark the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but bring us all together for a very unique national Able webinar with two incredible partners. I’m actually gonna introduce the first one here first. My dear friend and fellow advocate, Keely Cat-Wells.
I met Keely about two years ago, almost two years ago when she really started to come on the scene in pushing for inclusion in Hollywood both in front of the camera and behind the camera. And I don’t think there’s any better advocate out there than Keely in terms of what she’s trying to do to really fight for the equality of individuals with disabilities both in the employment sphere, but also in our media and our marketing. So I’m gonna turn it over to Keely to talk a little bit more about C-Talent and the work that she does day in and day out, but also talk about the importance of the Americans with Disabilities Act, why we’re all here to gather this afternoon, and talk about some of the challenges that the folks that she represents can have the opportunities we have to advocate and push for more awareness of able accounts. So Keely, I’m gonna turn it over to you.
Keely: Awesome. Thank you so much. Sara, you are such a trailblazer and I appreciate you for having me today and happy disability pride month to everyone. So I’m the founder of C-Talent, which is an award-winning and disabled-led talent management and consultancy company. We represent high profile deaf and disabled talent. And our goal is to change the way the world views and defines disability using the huge power that we have with the entertainment advertising and media industries. C-Talent was created because I became disabled at 17 years old after training to be a professional dancer becoming very unwell being misdiagnosed undiagnosed for about three years and coming out hospital, really realizing that the world was no longer designed with me in mind and that disabled people usually don’t have access to option a option B.
So we had to create our own option C, which for me was sea talent. So we’ve been going for about two and a half years, nearly three years. And we were recently acquired by the leading creator company, WHALAR, which marks one of the largest investments ever made into disabled talent within the creative industry, which is very exciting.
So we’ve been working with major companies like Twitter, Savage X Fenty, i Hulu, and other major companies to place our talent in all roles and not just disability specific roles to really normalize disabled people being experts in subjects beyond disability and showing that disabled people are allowed to be proud, successful and making money. And we are achieving not despite our medical conditions, but despite ableism. So I have so much joy doing the work that we do at C- Talent. And we are able to do this work because of the trailblazing activists who have been fighting for our rights for decades, including Judith Heumann, Jim Lebrech, and so many others. Hopefully you’ve seen Crip Camp or CODA and all of the wonderful media entertainment that really showcases disability representation, our history, our community, and our culture.As we know, the ADA is incredibly important and we celebrate 32 years today, but it also really shows that the groundwork is the foundation. It’s everything we need. But it’s not the pinnacle of where we need to be. Jim Lebrech said in a Netflix interview that the ADA is the floor, not the ceiling. And we have to strive to be beyond compliant, create accessibility beyond compliance and integrate universal design, adaptive design into all practices, into systems and procedures in procedures. And we have to take the justice approach to our work. So there’s still so many problems around the lack of education around attitudes towards disability.
I personally tend to use the social model of disability in that language, which means I personally identify as a disabled person. So language identity, first language, and the social model really says that disabled people are not disabled because of our medical conditions, but we are disabled by society’s barriers, whether that be attitudinal communication or physical. So as a disabled person, it’s really a political statement. I’m excited to be working together with everyone here, to take down those barriers and create access for all. So let’s dismantle ableism, become beyond compliant, and create equity for all the disabled community.
Sara: Thank you, Keely, appreciate you giving us that context and helping us kick things off this afternoon. One of the organizations, Eric’s gonna get into this a little bit later in our presentation, but one of the reasons ABLE today exists is to partner with like-minded stakeholders from all across the country to help expand the awareness and the opportunities that the able accounts provide to individuals with disabilities, their family members and caregivers.
And as we dive a little bit deeper into our outreach arm of ABLE today, one of the things that we want to do is to continue to build partnerships with employment organizations and employers, everybody from main street to wall street. And everyone in between is talking about how do we address diversity, equity and inclusion and the silent D and that equation is obviously disability. And because of the work that was done to expand ABLE and the amount that an individual can save to be able to work in 2017, which allows individuals with disabilities to save their own paycheck into an able account. We want to continue to expand those partnerships into the employment space and so able today as we’re, we’re getting off the ground looks forward to working with organizations like Inclusively, and we’re really excited to have the CEO and founder Charlotte Dales, who we actually met through the Beck family, at the Steven Beck Jr. Abel AAC, which is its namesake, introduced us to Charlotte several months ago. And we’re really excited to have Charlotte on this afternoon to talk a little bit more about Inclusively and its intersection with ABLE and the mission of this organization. So, Charlotte, do you wanna jump in?
Charlotte: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I was incredibly excited to meet the Beck family and learn about the ABLE organization. Given what we do, a lot of the questions that we have from candidates are around how they keep their disability benefits, but still provide a meaningful start to create a meaningful career for themselves. And so we are really excited about what ABLE is doing and how we can get that out to more of our employers as well as our candidates.
So I can give a brief background on myself. I Started a company about 10 years ago now over in London. And while I was selling that company, my cousin became the first licensed facialist in the state of Florida with Down Syndrome. She gives facials at a local salon and after getting my first facial from her, obviously we were all incredibly impressed and proud of what she had achieved, especially given that she had loved hair and beauty her entire life and she always was working in salons, folding towels and other jobs. And, you know, she really believed that she could do a lot more. When she ended up getting licensed as a facialist beyond just the impressive achievements she was able to make, I noticed how easy and essentially free it was for her employer to make some slight adjustments to her working environment and obviously the incredible impact it had on her career. And so I wanted to figure out how we can use technology to make it really, really, really easy for employers to accommodate candidates’ unique request at scale, across the spectrum of disability, anything from down syndrome and autism to stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, physical disabilities, chronic illnesses, and everything in between. How can we normalize the ability for candidates to feel confident requesting accommodations and also know that when they’re, when they’re disclosing this information, that employers are actually equipped to respond at the front door.
So we launched Inclusively actually two years ago today on July 26, 2020 ADA anniversary. And what we aim to do is to connect job seekers with employers who are committed to attracting and retaining previously hidden talent. We want to build one front door for all job seekers built upon the values of universal design, equity, accessibility, transparency, and empathy. On the employer side, our technology makes it easy for employers to adapt their existing processes, to be inclusive to everyone. One of the things that I learned when I first started this company was that there’s so many training programs, government agencies, and infrastructure out there that are training candidates with real skills that would be incredible talent for these jobs, except fo so many pre existing processes at companies that are filtering out these candidates at various parts of the journey. We aim to screen these candidates back in and arm employers with the ability to provide the most inclusive experience so candidates use it. Our candidates are requesting accommodations when they log into our platform and the employers receive these accommodation requests for every single candidate that applies for the job, which allows them to have real insights on what people need and are asking for so that they can understand where they may be lacking in some processes. Without that data, they don’t really know how to build the right infrastructure in place to be more inclusive. We’re then aggregating all the access to this hidden talent through partnering with government agencies, training programs, mentorships and nonprofits. One of the other issues that we saw was that there’s all these organizations out there, but they’re so fragmented and across so many different locations that it’s really hard for employers to access the demographic at scale.
So what we offer these organizations is a free tool to do what they’re already doing. Just hopefully more efficiently with better access to employers. And from the employer’s perspective, they’re getting a one stop shop partnership ecosystem for a huge variety of candidates with disabilities. We really push all of our employers to post every single job they have on our platform, because in our minds, someone with a disability can do any job at any company. It just matters what skills they have and what accommodations they need. We also provide training and real time learnings on each of our candidates. So because we now know their accommodation requests, we’re actually able to ship that data over to the employer with not just what the requests are, but how to provide them what they mean, and why someone might be asking for that because traditionally large companies are centralizing all of this knowledge within a legal and compliance team. Accommodations aren’t widely known around the company and we’re trying to actually create this knowledge base within the recruiters and hiring managers themselves, and have them learn as they take action versus relying on annual diversity trainings to change their behavior. We also offer support along the way with our success enabler chat, which is what we like to call accommodation. So employers can write into our chat when they’re about to interview a candidate and make sure that the interview accommodations they’re providing are right. We also can track all of the data that they’re collecting on all the candidates they’re interviewing and placing, and we’re helping them figure out any other bottlenecks that we can help them push through.
So I’ll jump to the next slide and so for job seekers it’s kind of self explanatory. They’re able to create a profile, they’re able to request accommodations, they’re able to look for jobs, not just based on what skills and job titles, but they can also look for companies based on what inclusive services they’re offering or if they’ve made a pledge to a disability organization, they can really try and find those companies that are right for them. We create personalized job matches, and then we have a community portal where people can engage with one another, learn what accommodations are working best for people and how to provide them
Eric: Great. Thank you again, Charlotte, and Keely, too. I know that all of us work together to help promote people with disabilities, with financial empowerment and community inclusion, across many sectors with job opportunities for schools and financial empowerment. So I know Sara and I really appreciate you being partners with us.
We look forward to working with you in the future on how we can promote financial empowerment and community inclusion across the country. So with that, I wanted to make sure that we had a couple minutes here to talk about ABLE. But before I do that, I wanted to acknowledge the fact that this program that we’re offering today is through the National Association of State Treasurers. On the next slide, you’ll see NAST launched the ABLE today initiative earlier this year. Our whole focus is simply to do outreach and provide community education webinars, conversations on ABLE accounts in direct support of all the able programs in the country.
So many of the ABLE programs coexist and work together in the ABLE network at NAST. Through that all of us work together really to do one thing is to raise the awareness for the brand of what is able and abletoday.org is a website that helps to have a repository for information, for ABLE accounts.
This wouldn’t be possible without our great partners at Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo helped us to provide a founding philanthropic grant to help us launch ABLE Today. And I want to thank Bonnie Wallace, who I believe is on the webinar today for all of her support of ABLE and really her support, financial empowerment for people with disabilities across the country.
So on behalf of all of us, I wanna thank Wells Fargo again for all the great support with that.
Before we get into the slide, I wanna make sure again, we acknowledge our team. So again, speaking on behalf of the ABLE programs is Dante Allen. Dante is the current executive director of the Cal ABLE program. He’s responsible for directing and launching the operations for Cal ABLE. Prior to joining Cal ABLE, he had leadership roles with the California department of public health office of health equity, where he developed communication strategies to promote the concepts related to the social determinants of health. So Dante and I have been working together for years. I really appreciate him being here. Mark Raymond Jr. Is new to the able scene. Mark and I had a couple conversations earlier this year about ABLE and one of the best parts about Mark is he had no idea about it. Mark is a leading advocate for disability rights in the New Orleans area. He’d never had a conversation about it. I’m gonna acknowledge the fact that Mark also has a disability that occurred after the age of 26 while he’s on eligible for an account. Mark tirelessly has worked to support us and work together as a partner with us on providing education throughout his community.
So, Mark, I want to thank you for being here again and then Sara, she really needs no introduction. Sara is part of the team to help get the able act over the finish line. All those years ago. Sara was the former president and CEO of the National Down Syndrome Society. She worked with advocates, both on the Democrat, Republican sides and the house and the Senate, the ABLE act passed and was really helpful, really happy that she rejoined us in the ABLE world to help us continue getting outreach out. Sara, Mark, and Dante.Thanks again.
Well, on the next slide here, this is for really anyone, and as someone who used to do ABLE outreach across Ohio, I’ve been a part of conversations and part of presentations that have been hundreds of people at them. And then also driving two hours away from Columbus, Ohio to talk to one person. So all those in between, if anyone here on the call is a person with a disability. If you plan your finances month to month, if you worry and think, “what will I do if I have an extra $2,000 in my account?”, or maybe “I’m worried about going over the $2,000 amount”, or “I’m worried about losing my SSI or Medicaid”. If you’re a person with disabilities on any disability service enable account is something you should hear about. If you’re a family member of a person, disability, if you’re a caregiver, if you live, if you work, if you’re a school transition service coordinator, if you’re in the disability network at your company, and then if you’re a disability benefit provider if you provide financial advising services, if you’re a special needs trust lawyer, if you do any kind of monitoring or support for the finances for a person, the disability enabled account should be on your radar. Sara and I often joke about who should care about an ABLE account. My answer always is everyone, but at least we’ve tried to formulate it on this piece of paper that it’s really for the universe of anyone that is a personal disability or supports a personal disability in their life. Next slide, please.
Dante: I just wanted to step in and really acknowledge Eric and Sara and everyone who put today’s webinar together. It really is enlightening to hear all of the amazing things that people with disabilities are doing. And as Eric said in my background I focused on equity and so the ABLE program and leading this program over the last five years has been one of the greatest opportunities and experiences of my career. So let me paint a picture for you about two different people who would qualify for ABLE accounts.
The first is Amanda, a 13 year old with a physical disability. And she uses Medicaid services throughout her life. Amanda’s parents are saving for her to go to college, but they wonder who will support and care for Amanda when they’re no longer around to be able to do that. They want to be able to plan for her future, but if Amanda’s parents were anything like mine, when friends and family discovered that I had a disability her parents were probably advised whatever you do, don’t put any money in Amanda’s name, because if you do that, that’s going to disqualify her from being able to receive benefits like SSI and it can financially hamstring her for the rest of her.
Dalton is a different case. Dalton is a 34 year old with a developmental disability. He receives SSI and he uses this for his monthly rent payments. Now one day Dalton wants to buy his own home, but because he is receiving SSI, he can never save more than $2,000 to be able to put down a down payment on a home. He wants to plan for his future and keep his benefits even while he’s working. but there are restrictions that don’t allow him to be able to do that until now. Next slide. Now imagine if Amanda and Dalton could save their own money in their own names and be able to access that money whenever they need to they can accumulate their wealth without losing benefits and the pervasive thing about SSI benefits, especially is if you go over those limits, SSI says you need to spend this money down.
And if you don’t do it within the timeframe that we say, you need to do it, we’re going to help you out by cutting you off from that monthly benefit that you receive. So you only have that excess to live on until you get it down below 2000, then they kick your benefits back in, but it’s a precarious situation for anybody to be in. But imagine if, if Dalton or Amanda could work without having to spin down their current or future income and they could move from this place of maintaining where they are to actually having a financial plan that can give them a lifetime of stability. And remember what programs like SSI we’re talking about only $2,000 that may have been when it was first incorporated.
About 20, 25 years ago, $2,000 may have been, Hey, any emergency that comes up, you can cover that with $2,000 in savings. I, I would say that any emergency that comes up today, Will probably cost you at least $2,000 or more. And so what that means is that people with disabilities, especially those on benefits have been prevented from having that stability of knowing that they can endure any type of unexpected expense that can come up.
And so that’s where ABLE accounts have the ability to be able to have that durability to weather those financial storms. If you can go to the next slide, please. So what is an ABLE account? ABLE accounts are tax advantage, savings and investment tools specifically for people with disabilities that allow them to save money and access that money whenever they need to for qualified expenses without affecting public benefits.
Now ABLE is very different than most of the laws that impact people with disabilities because it doesn’t come from social security or health and human services. This is the tax code. So this is actually a financial equalizer designed to empower people with disabilities to take control of their own lives and their financial futures.Next slide please.
So ABLE accounts exist in just about every state in the United States, 46 states, plus the District of Columbia offer able programs. Most of those programs allow you to enroll. Even if you are not a resident of that state. So I run California’s program, which is a national program. You can live anywhere in the United States and open a call label account.
There are a few states where you must be a resident to open an account in that state. Then there are just a couple that don’t offer a program at all. So if you want to join a program, then you’d have to go to one of those states that allow out-of-state residents to part. Since the program launched, the first able act was passed in 2014, the federal law.
And so since then 120,000 able accounts have been opened and now over a billion dollars are in UN assets under management, across the nation. That’s a billion with a B. So in a very short time but what is seven years since the first ABLE program opened? We’ve been able to accumulate a savings of over a billion dollars that is directly impacting people with disabilities.
Now, if you want to find out more information about the able program in your state or you want to get more information about ABLE in general, you can go to the able today [email protected] and you can look up /ABLE-programs to get more information on those. next slide. So one of the most important things, and I can’t stress this enough about able accounts is that the, the person with the disability, the beneficiary is always the owner of the account.
That means that the money in that account belongs to them. It’s in their name. And they can have the opportunity to use that money at their discretion. or they can have an authorized representative be in control of the account if they are unable or unwilling to manage the account themselves. It is a direct alternative to giving those spin down notices those notices from programs like SSI that say, Hey, you have more than $2,000, you have to spend that money down and you have to do it quickly. And so a lot of times when people get those notices, it’s not like they can go and make the most strategic decisions because they have to do it within a timeframe.
So it means I’m gonna buy as much toothpaste as I can, not to say that toothpaste isn’t great. But if they had the ability to make a choice on how to best use their money they may have, they may make different decisions. ABLE accounts are very simple to use. They’ve been designed to be online programs that work very similarly to online banking. You can open, close and make transactions all from a computer or a mobile device. They are tax advantage, meaning that the growth, because they’re investment accounts, any growth that you have on your money is tax free. As long as the money stays in the able account, you don’t pay any income tax on any growth when you pull the money out, as long as you’re pulling it out for qualified expenses, and those are the expenses of that help to improve or maintain your health, your independence, or your quality of life, again, any earnings or tax free.
So it’s the opportunity to save, grow your money, not pay taxes on that growth, and then be able to pull it out anytime, whenever you need to use it. So these programs are designed to be very consumer friendly and easy to use, and they can make a world of difference for folks. Next slide eligibility.
Mark: So interestingly enough, when Eric told me about able accounts just a few months ago shortly after I realized that I wasn’t even eligible because of the age I was when my accident happened, I was 27. So who is eligible? People whose injury occurred before the age of 26? It has to be a long term disability. And your diagnosis has to be written up by a doctor, of course. same for your eligibility for SSI or SSD I and just to note, the disability must be long term IE more than 12 months, right? So for me, I have a C five spinal cord injury and now if my accident had happened just seven months earlier, I would have an able account today. You can go to the next slide, Sara.
So in the important stuff, how do you open an able account? Thanks to the National Association of State Treasurers, you can visit able today.org/able-programs to find more examples, more info and examples to see all of the states that offer programs and how to enroll in those programs. Most programs offer easy enrollment online, or you can go to a bank branch in those particular states and even submit a paper application.
The enrollment is also very flexible, but as Dante mentioned the account owner is the person with the disability. The flexibility is who can actually administer and manage that account. Right. the different support people. Next slide, sir. So who can serve as an able account support person? This is a good list/ You have power of attorney, a conservator, a guardian, a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a grandparent, a representative payee, a friend, right? It can be any individual that you appoint, but again, that account is still yours. So let, let’s give you a good example of this.
So going back to our friend, Amanda, a young woman, whose mom really takes care of her. Now Amanda opens the account, but mom really takes care of it. And it only takes her about 20 minutes to get everything going again. Amanda’s listed as the account owner Amanda’s support person manages and administers all of the day to day withdrawals, contributions or anything else that’s related to the account.
Next slide, please. Sarah. So the other important thing is how do you get money into the account now? Typically it functions just like a checking account, right? You can deposit money electronically or buy a check. Most accounts have flexible features. Like most programs allow payroll deductions and E-gifting and the rollover feature can also roll over money from a 5 29 college savings account.
So these accounts are really useful for people who qualify for them, and as we continue to advocate for that age limit to be expanded and I believe it’s being moved forward right now by Senator Casey. We’ll see more people eligible to enroll in these accounts. So hopefully one day that’ll be me.
Dante: Thank you, so I’ll step in and talk about how much you can contribute to an ABLE account because there are limits again, this is a tax advantage program. So this represents a potential loss of revenue revenue for the federal government. So they put some guidelines around how much you can put into an able account.
So there is a $16,000 annual contribution and that limit is based on the IRS gift tax except for exceptions. So you can put in from all parties, so you can have friends and family you can put in your SSI benefits you can put in your paycheck but you can only put in up to $16,000 a year.
Actually let me correct that there is an exception if you are working and you do want to put in money that you’re earning in addition to the 16,000, from all sources, you can, you can also put in your own income up to an additional $12,880. So potentially $28,880 in a single calendar year.
Now, if you’re receiving benefits like SSI any money up to a hundred thousand dollars that you put into your able account will be completely disregarded. They’re not gonna count that against that $2,000 resource limit. If you’re not worried about benefits, you can actually contribute a lot more 400, depending on the ABLE program, it can go from 400,000 to above half a million dollars.
So California’s program which I’m executive director of. We actually have a total contribution limit of $529,000. So you can continue to contribute until you reach that amount. and then because it’s an investment program, your account can still continue to grow. You’re just no longer allowed to put in additional money over that 529,000.
Next slide. So here’s an example of how Dalton contributes to his ABLE account. He set up direct deposit through his employer to contribute a part of his paycheck. So Dalton can contribute up to 12,880 from his work income. It has to be from income in order to do that. He also uses E-gifting and receives $5,000 annually from family and friends.
E-gifting works just like a GoFundMe. You can tell folks, Hey, instead of giving me socks this year for Christmas, you can put money directly into my able account and it won’t affect my benefits. So before Dalton could never have more than that $2,000 in savings now with an ABLE account, he has more than $17,000 in savings and it doesn’t affect his benefits at all. He has the ability to maintain that savings, prepare for that house that he wants to buy and not get in trouble with his benefits. Next slide
Yeah. So one of the things that we get asked all the time about able accounts is can I go to my local bank as Wells Fargo’s a sponsor, I’ll say, can I go to Wells Fargo and tell them, I want to turn my checking account into an able account. You’re not able to do that. The only people that are able to offer these ABLE accounts are the state entities that do here in California, which will run through the state treasurer’s office. And most states they’re run through their treasury departments. and so the costs of these able accounts are really meant to be affordable and competitive. So the annual account maintenance fees for these accounts range anywhere from zero to $60 per year. I’ll again, give the example of California. Our annual account maintenance fee is $37. So it’s taken out in just over $3 per month and monthly installments. In addition, because you have the ability to invest your money.
There also may be additional asset based fees, which mean they take a percentage of your total, of the total amount that you have in the account or the amount that you’re investing. And those range anywhere from 0% to just a little less than one 10th of 1%. And then you have the ability to grow your money.
And so one of the examples that I like to give all the time is if you had a cow label account and your balance was around $3,000 the total expenses, the most you would pay for maintaining that call label account and investing and potentially growing your money is around $53 a year. So a very affordable way to Manage your benefits, grow your money and and plan for a financial future.Next slide.
Sara: Great. Thank you Dante. So many of the ABLE accounts and the way that this has been structured for many, many years is there are several investment options. And most of the ABLE programs offer multiple places to place your resources or your money, specifically those three options range from a traditional checking. Vehicle to a savings instrument and with investment options. And again as Dante said, we really encourage folks to go to our able today website, learn a little bit more about the various offerings of our state able programs to identify which option and which investment portfolio might be the best for you.
You can pick one of these options or spread your money across multiple different platforms. We have it here, but you can see, you could choose from a checking and savings option, which are all FDIC insured, or you can also look into and research those market based investment options, stocks, bonds, etc. But again, I believe we put this in the chat, but you can check out those various state able programs and plans from. And one of the things that we also wanted to make sure that folks had a great understanding, we’ve talked a lot about the nuances of eligibility, how to open up an ABLE account, but how do you utilize those resources in your ABLE account on a daily basis?
These are called qualified disability expenses or QD QDE. This idea obviously went through the process in Washington. So it also has an acronym, like most things do. These are the expenses that can come out of the use of an ABLE account. And the great thing about the qualified disability expenses is that really Congress and then the regulations that help us oversee ABLE today have maintained the integrity of the original law that passed in 2014 to keep those expenses broad because at the end of the day we advocated and we fought for these accounts.
So that way individuals with disabilities, their family members and caregivers can utilize them on a daily basis. So you can see these qualified disability expenses listed up here. Housing and rent savings to purchase a home, your mortgage, your rent payment can come out of your able account assisted technology, basic living expenses, financial management transportation, to get to and from work to and from activities.
We’re gearing up to do a presentation in the next couple of weeks with one of the special Olympic state chapters. They’re very interested in how ABLE can benefit their athletes across the state health and wellness education, saving up for college tutoring a job coach. And then of course legal fees. Again, the expenses are very broad and we’re very pleased to see and have a number of different examples of how self-advocates are utilizing ABLE in their daily lives. How to withdraw money from your able account. You can see a number of different platforms and different options that our state ABLE plans have available to individuals on a daily basis. Checkbooks, debit cards, third party checks and bank transfers are all platforms that are embedded within the various state ABLE programs. And then finally I think this is my last slide before I turn it over back over to Eric. There are two really important, special benefits rules that we wanted to point out to our audience today. And these provisions are in the original ABLE statute. And we wanted to make sure that folks understood how ABLE might interact with your benefits.
So let’s take social security. First on the left hand side of your screen, I often refer to this as the SSI threshold. So if your ABLE account reaches a hundred thousand dollars in assets, you don’t become disqualified for social security. Your check is just suspended. And we really encourage individuals with their support networks to think about once that account reaches a hundred thousand dollars in assets, are you saving up for a big expense, like maybe for instance, purchasing your own home, and you’re in a position where you want to accumulate more wealth in your ABLE account to be able to purchase that large expense, or if an individual really needs the monthly SSI check you can decide to maintain your able account under that a hundred thousand dollars threshold.
So really that’s how ABLE interacts with social security insurance or SSI. Now on the right hand side of your screen. This is if you receive Medicaid and the great thing about ABLE and one of the reasons why we fought so hard to get this passed is because the resources in your ABLE count, never jeopardizes your Medicaid eligibility. So as Dante pointed out, with some of the annual resources and annual CA limits that can be placed into an ABLE account in a calendar year and then the overall account size, Medicaid is never impacted with the size of your ABLE account. One thing we did want to point out is that the Medicaid recovery payback still does apply to an able account just as it applies to other bank accounts.
And as we’ve encouraged you throughout the presentation, you know, please check with your state to confirm how that might impact or how that particular provision might impact you based on what state you live in. And we can also put that in the chat and a couple more points just for this one slide Sara, the, the benefits one for SSI and Medicaid in the chat right now I’m listing the Page for federal agency interactions with ABLE accounts.
So for example, how social security interacts with ABLE accounts, how HUD does Medicaid. So please use that as a resource both for yourselves. And if you do have someone that you work with on benefits please provide them. If it’s a Medicaid benefits officer, please let them know that the resource is there for them.
Eric: The next part of this conversation has to do with special needs trust. So if you look at any options in the financial world, there are lots of different opportunities and choices to pick from no different than for a personal disability. You may be thinking of, or may have a special needs trust or maybe thinking of, or may have an ABLE account. You could have both and maybe should consider having both both special needs trust and ABLE accounts work great together, there are tools in a financial toolbox that offer people with disabilities and their support networks, the opportunity for expanded financial empowerment, a couple of examples for why they work so great together is as Dante mentioned earlier able accounts have a $16,000 maximum contribution amount per year.
So again, you can only put $16,000 in the account for many sources in a year for special needs trust. There is no limit. So if someone maybe had a life insurance policy that was a hundred thousand dollars, you could in essence work with and have a special needs trust and deposit the money, you know, the special needs trust, and then make a, an annual disbursement from the trust and put it over to the able account.
So again, they kind of help each other, answer each other’s questions on the reverse of that. Special needs trusts can’t be used for meals, whereas an ABLE account can. So again, an ABLE account supports those with a special needs trust with something that they can’t do. So the easiest way to say it, they’re both great options.They both should be considered. They help each other out and they should be part of a financial toolbox for people with disabilities. Next slide.
We hope following today that you do research right. Go to our website. We’ve listed all the programs for the country. Again, 46 states and the District of Columbia are listed. There’s lots of great resources on federal benefits and how they work with ABLE accounts, ABLE comp backgrounds, and ABLE employers. Sara’s leading the effort to hopefully get us into more employers that we can offer through HR departments, ABLE accounts we’d ask in love if people could spread the word.
I often talk about how I’d rather have 500,000 people say they don’t want an able account. And for 500 people to say, they’ve never heard about it. The best part about ABLE is just letting people know people with disabilities deserve the right to hear information and how they can have financial independence and empowerment and able accounts provide that as an option.
So if you could help us spread the word and, and tell people to help us raise the awareness of what ABLE is, it’d be great. I know Mark, Sara and I would love to be busy. Dante’s got enough work managing the California ABLE program, but we would love to keep working with partners like Charlotte and Keely, right?
We want to be able to be busier. And I know that sounds fun to say, but at the end of the day, presentations and answering questions, getting the word out and describing what an ABLE account is, is the absolute best way to let people know it. So this isn’t just a, a once a month webinar style. We’d love to do group presentations. We’d love to do phone calls with folks. Sara and I have spent the last couple months individually talking with people with disabilities. I know Mark’s ready now too, to join with us and get up too. So please request presentations for your groups. Let us know how we can continue to partner together on ABLE. Next slide.
Couple quick resources on our website. We have videos again, the federal benefits information and all the able programs we’ve already talked about all these and the last slide hopefully is our, our thank you slide again on behalf of the National Association of State Treasurers, Thank you.
I want to thank Wells Fargo again for their help on getting it started. My favorite part of our presentation were the questions. So Sara, I don’t know if we want to have a couple extra minutes and, and if Charlotte and Keely have time as well. Dante, I hope you can stick around. If folks have questions you can put in the chat box.
Now we’ve answered many of them. I just did a presentation with UBS just before this presentation here. And one of the questions we got from them was, could I be over the age of 26 to have an ABLE account? And when I was part of the Ohio team running the Ohio ABLE program, the oldest person who had an able account in Ohio through the Ohio program was actually in their nineties. So you do not have to be under the age of 26 to have an account. The other great part of the legislation actually states that if you don’t have to be diagnosed under the age of 26, if your disability occurred before the age of 26, again, onset before 26, but you were diagnosed maybe in your thirties or maybe in your forties, you can still be eligible for an ABLE account. I want to make sure that everyone knows you don’t have to be under 26 to be enrolled, and you don’t even have to be diagnosed before 26 to have an ABLE account. Alright, two questions came in: Putting money on the able prepaid visa card. Does that money have to be spent in the month? It’s transferred. Dante, would you like to take that one?
Dante: So I’ll repeat it real quick is putting money on the ABLE prepaid visa cards, whatever prepaid debit card there is. Does that money have to be spent in the month and maybe I’ll lead you into the answer. Does it have to be spent by the end of the year? Yeah. So the great thing about prepaid visa cards and most ABLE programs offering a prepaid card is that from the moment that you make the transfer from your able account to that prepaid card that’s considered a qualified disability expense distribution. and so for most purposes you don’t have to spend it within that same calendar month. And the reason why I say most purposes is because if you’re using the money to pay for. housing expenses, whether it is rent or utility bills. There is one caveat of ABLE that says when you’re using it to pay for housing expenses, the withdrawal and the expense have to be paid within the same calendar month. That’s only related to those housing expenses. And again, it’s things like rent or your mortgage or utility bills. It’s not food. but anything else you don’t have that same kind of limit. And so you actually have much longer to be able to make to be able to leave that money on the card, to be able to spend how you need to.
Eric: Thanks Dante. We had a question come in for Charlotte which said, “can anyone or any company join Inclusively and C-talent. So Charlotte wants to go first.
Charlotte: Yeah, so I can answer that Any company can join inclusively. We are funded purely by the companies that we work for. So it’s not a free platform, but we have pricing for all different types of company sizes and flexibility.
Keely: Awesome. I can jump in. So with C-talent, we have two primary ways that companies can get involved. So the first way would be if you wanted to hire our talent to market or advertise any of your services whether that be through social media, through creator marketing, or through TV commercials, or if you are creating any form of media or content. So we’ve got the talent that could be in that, or also work behind the camera as well. Writers, directors, producers et cetera. And then the other side that companies can get involved with us is if you need, or would like any training on disability representation on working with disabled people on accessibility requirements. The social model of disability systems and procedures any kind of training to do with disability. And then we also work with companies in other forms of consulting capacities as well. So just as I mentioned, just working on a long term basis with companies, helping them become inclusive and accessible beyond compliance. That’s the best way for companies to get involved with C-talent.
Eric: Thank you. Dante, I might have a two parter here with you. I’ll take the first part to take the second part so that one of the questions has to do with transferring money from an ABLE account to a special needs trust. So I wanna make sure everyone understands Dante and I, while we pretend to be lawyers on TV we are not. So I want to make sure we state that. The number one reason for a special needs trust just want to make sure that you’re aware and you’ll obviously talk to a real lawyer about this, but you can amend a special needs trust to have an ABLE account disbursement. So if you, if you do already have a special needs trust, you can amend that using your firm and have a disbursement come from an ABLE account. If you haven’t had a special needs trust, you can actually build that in with your legal team to make sure that disbursement can come out of a special needs trust, and then into the ABLE account. And then Dante, I’ll let you take the second part.
Dante: Remind me again, the second part though, Eric
Eric: It’s money going from an ABLE account into a special needs trust.
Dante: Yeah. So in that circumstance, it really is you sort of have to ask yourself the question. Why are you moving the money from the ABLE account to the special needs trust? Remember you get very similar protection, so you’re not doing it for benefits protection to move the money into the special needs trust. You also have more flexibility on how you can use the money as long as it stays in the able account. So what I am more familiar with, what I hear most often is that people use their special needs trust to fund their able accounts. Remember special needs trusts have to be managed by a trustee. Now that trustee may be a parent or a legal guardian or a family friend or whatnot, but it also could be someone that you have to pay to access the money that’s in the trust with nav account, it can be managed by the person with the disability themselves, so you can move money from the special needs trust, which has to be managed by a trustee to the individual who can then make the decisions about how he actually uses the money.
That’s what I’m most familiar with. I would have some concerns about moving money from an able account. the question I would would ask is for what purpose and would that still continue to qualify as a qualified disability expense?
Eric: Thanks, Dante, we’ll take time for one more question. It’s from a great ABLE advocate in Delaware, Carl has a great question for Keely. Keely, Carl who works doing communications work across many spheres. One of which is a great supporter of able accounts. Had a question about how to market ABLE accounts and also why the shift from people’s first language, you know, identifying as a disabled person, as opposed to a person which is a disability. So maybe tie that into your work that you do, and then how we can work together in a more inclusive way to promote able.
Keely: That’s such a great question. Thank you. So I’ll start with the reason why I identify in that way. Language is so individual and the community has many different ways in which we choose to identify. And there’s no one right way. There’s no wrong way for the disabled person themselves. And if someone asks you to identify them in a certain way, then of course always adhere to that. We personally see talent as a company on a whole because the social model which I mentioned was rich really is because we want to put the onus on society to make the change that’s needed and to fix the barriers that we face in society. And that’s why we say disabled people because we are disabled by society.
And then in terms of marketing ABLE accounts with the work that we do, it’s very much around making sure that the community knows about the awesome things that are available to the community. What we’ve noticed with many companies is that a lot of companies do have really awesome and inclusive and accessible programs and systems and procedures but a lot of the community just don’t know about them because they haven’t found the right way to tap into the community. There’s been a lot of myths around actors and content creators that there aren’t any that are disabled and that is completely untrue. So we are really excited to have that amazing community of talent and that pool of talent not just with the ones that we represent, but we’ve got a network of so many that are out there that one can tap into.
And I think it’s really important that these campaigns and this advertising around services especially the ones for disabled people are created and created with and by, and because they’re for disabled people, I think it so often gets missed. And I think the power of lived experience is so important and and really says so much. So I would work with the disabled community, those who are experts and professionals within the creative field and who have that expertise to, to create a campaign or create some form of awareness around, around the awesome things that are out there. So I hope that helps a little bit. Yeah. Thank you.
Eric: I want to have a quick closing remark. I’m just gonna go down real quick. Dante, do you wanna save something to, to end on wrap up?
Dante: I think I’ll just reiterate what you said, Eric. And that is when I present, I’m often told that ABLE is the best kept secret out there.And my job and Eric’s job and NAST job is to eliminate that secret. We want to tell everybody we want this to be the worst kept secret in the government that there is this program that will help so many people. So thank you. I’m truly blessed to have heard the presentations today and glad to have been a part of this.
So thank you.
Eric: Charlotte or Mark. Do you wanna go just real quick?
Mark: I think Charlotte may have had to log off. Okay, well, I’ll go. Again, this was a great secret that I just found out about and I’m looking forward to advocating for that expanded eligibility. and seeing that really come to fruition. I think everyone will appreciate that most people don’t confront disability until later in life. So expanding that eligibility will be able to impact so many more people’s lives. And I love this kinda work. This is fun.
Eric: Sara, do you want to say anything real quick?
Sara: Just briefly. Thank you everyone for being a part of this. We really tried to take a different approach to promoting able as a tool in the toolbox and really grateful to be able to do that alongside organizations like C- talent and Inclusively, where we’re all in this together.
And we’re grateful for you all participating in our webinar this afternoon.
Eric: Absolutely. This is different. It’s an add-on to all the other ABLE outreach done by all the ABLE programs. And we’re trying to raise brand awareness across the country so I want to quickly thank Lynette and Elizabeth, our interpreters for all the help they gave today.
So thank you very much, Lynette and Elizabeth. On behalf of everyone else, please keep us busy. Let us know how we can share information, let us know how we can get out there and provide more resources for ABLE. So thank you everyone.