The NC ABLE Program allows individuals with the occurrence of a disability prior to the age of 26 and their families to contribute to tax-advantaged savings accounts without impacting eligibility for important public supports like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.
A path to financial freedom
For many eligible participants, there has long been a ‘spend down’ mentality. Saving money presents the risk of losing crucial public benefits for health care, food, housing and other supports. NC ABLE allows eligible individuals to save up to $16,000 per year, with the first $100,000 exempt from the poverty-level resource limits for SSI. Funds in an NC ABLE account will not impact eligibility for Medicaid, or eligibility to receive aid from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Simply put, NC ABLE accounts create a path to financial freedom.
A better life experience
Not only does NC ABLE break financial barriers, but it also transforms the way eligible individuals and their families participate in their communities and plan for the future.
NC ABLE accounts grow tax free and can be used to fund essential services and qualified disability expenses (QDEs), helping to improve one’s quality of life. Things like speech-generating devices, special education programs, hearing and vision aids, laptops, smart home technology, vocational training, and even cell phones may be considered QDEs. These are just some of the many examples of QDEs that are crucial to maintaining independence and can help account holders achieve a better life experience.
Disability employment awareness
I have met individuals across the state with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are a part of the work force and contribute to their local and state economies. NC ABLE provides a tool for workers as they experience the joy of achievement and upward mobility that every North Carolinian deserves. Through the ABLE-to-work provision, an NC ABLE account holder can have their pay submitted into their account by direct deposit and they have a greater annual allowance for account contributions.
Though Disability Employment Awareness Month is celebrated each October, disability employment needs to be an ongoing conversation. Many organizations provide employment support, including the Autism Society of North Carolina and the Arc of North Carolina. And NC ABLE allows account holders to work towards transition, assume responsibilities, and discover a path to independence.
The POWER of Five
Over the past five years, the average NC ABLE account balance has grown to over $9,500 with the overall program accumulating assets of more than $16.2 million. This has been done through grassroots efforts and partnerships with organizations like the Autism Society of North Carolina, the Arc of North Carolina, and the Special Olympics North Carolina. While this growth is commendable, we can do more. There are many families and eligible individuals who would benefit from the NC ABLE Program.
Awareness is critical to help reach these people, so I challenge you to tell just five people about NC ABLE. This is what NC ABLE’s 5th year anniversary of account availability and the POWER of FIVE is all about — telling five people about NC ABLE and then they will tell five other people — and we can start a chain to reach the eligible population in North Carolina and beyond.
Learn more about the benefits of NC ABLE and how to open an account at NCABLE.org.Tags: autism, autism employment, autism resources, NC ABLE