Floridians with disabilities face many challenges, including saving money.
Those who relied on government means-tested assistance programs were only limited to only $2,000 in assets. If they were to exceed the $2,000 limit they would hurt their government benefits.
In 2014, Achieving a Better Life Experience, also known as the ABLE act, allowed each state to develop their own programs so that persons with disabilities could save and invest money without affecting their government benefits.
Brand Ambassador of the ABLE United program here in Florida, Phoebe Fellows has an 11-year old son with autism and she tells us how the ABLE act helped her and her son, Gunner.
"It's definitely peace of mind. I was one of the first account holders and my mom is a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and financial planner. She had heard about the ABLE act. I ended up going to a conference that was with a special needs trust attorney and there was an ABLE representative. It's very easy to open, it's free to open, and it's a nonprofit run by the 529 College Plans, so that was reassuring. It essentially allows me, friends, and family to contribute money, up to $15,000 a year, and the earnings are tax-free. It essentially creates a savings or investment account for him [Gunner]. That can either compliment a job he has down the line or if he isn't able to work, he won't lose his government benefits. It's not considered as an asset, when being eligible for government benefits. That's the biggest headliner," said Fellows.
This month, the ABLE United act is recognizing the disability community with their No Limits Campaign.
"The No Limits Campaign is in the month of February. They are ABLE United celebrating the current account holders and how they are using accounts to better their lives. Also, if the new users enroll $25 dollars or more when you open an account, ABLE United will make a free $50 contribution to that account," added Fellows.
If you are interested in the Florida ABLE United program, there are three eligibility requirements.
"You must be a Florida resident, you must have been diagnosed with a disability before the age of 26, and the third is that you must have an eligible disability. If you go onto ABLEUnited.com then you can scroll down to the eligibility tab and there's a vast array of disabilities like autism, down syndrome, hearing or vision impaired, and several neurological and mental disorders. A lot of people are eligible for this and a lot of people don't know about it, that's why we're trying to spread the word," said Fellows.
For more information, go to ableunited.com