June 14, 2016
The ABLE National Resource Center is excited to congratulate the State of Tennessee on the launch of the country’s second ABLE program. ABLE TN is a national program, offering enrollment to qualified individuals with disabilities both in Tennessee and throughout the country.
ABLE TN allows qualified individuals with disabilities to save up to $14,000 a year in an ABLE account without jeopardizing their eligibility for federally-funded means tested benefits, such as Social Security and Medicaid. The funds in the account can be used for disability-related expenses that assist the beneficiary in increasing and/or maintaining his or her health, independence or quality of life.
Millions of individuals with disabilities and their families are often relegated to a life of poverty as a result of not being allowed to build even the most modest levels of resources. Individuals receiving supports through Social Security, Medicaid and other publically-funded programs are often disqualified from those supports if they have more than $2,000 worth of resources or assets. Now, with the launch of nationwide ABLE programs, individuals with disabilities and their families will be able to take a step to better secure their financial futures and to help offset the often significant financial challenges that can accompany living with a disability.
ABLE TN focuses on efforts to ensure minimal costs associated with establishing and maintaining an ABLE account. Total annual asset-based fees range from 0 percent to 0.63 percent, depending on the investment selections held within an account. There are no sales or distribution charges or fixed account maintenance fees associated with ABLE TN accounts. The total annual asset-based fee includes the underlying investment expenses and program management fee. The annual asset-based fee is divided over 12 months and applied to the account balance at the end of each month.
ABLE TN and the Ohio STABLE Account program are currently the only two programs enrolling beneficiaries in the country, and they are doing so only via their online portals. However, we expect several other states, including Nebraska, Florida and Utah, to be launching their ABLE account programs in the very near future. In fact, both Nebraska (a national plan) and Florida (an in-state only plan) are expected to launch prior to July 1st.
For more information on ABLE TN and how to enroll, please visit www.abletn.gov.
Earlier this month, the Autism Society participated in a briefing on successful employment outcomes for youth with significant disabilities. The program was hosted by the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination (CPSD), a coalition of 10 disability organizations, including the Autism Society, that advocate for the "modernization of the federal adult system of services and supports for persons with disabilities". The event coincided with the release of The Implications of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act for Seamless Transition of Youth with Significant Disabilities, a policy brief prepared by Richard G. Luecking, Ed.D. for CPSD.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is studying the services needed by youth and early intervention services for children on the spectrum. The study is commissioned out of the response of Representative Christopher Smith's office who we worked very closely with to make sure this happened. The first part of the GAO study has been released and finds that federal programs provide a variety of intervention services to young children with autism. The second part of the GAO study on services needed by youth with autism who are transitioning to adulthood will be released in August.
The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) wants your input to help identify priority topics for inclusion in the 2016 IACC Strategic Plan for ASD. The new plan will cover research, services and policy issues related to the 7 Questions covered in the IACC Strategic Plan. Click here to submit your comments. The comment period will be open from June 15, 2016 - July 29, 2016.
If you or your child has a professional diagnosis of autism, the Autism Society invites you to learn more about SPARK, a new online research study sponsored by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. The mission of SPARK is clear: speed up research and advance understanding of autism by creating the nation’s largest autism study. Joining SPARK is simple – register online and provide a DNA sample via a saliva collection kit in the comfort of your own home. Visit www.SPARKforAutism.org. Together, we can help spark a better future for all individuals and families affected by autism.