Two years ago, Allison Van Doren discovered several savings bonds that her grandparents gave her when she was little. While appreciated, the gift would put her over the asset threshold allowed to maintain important benefits like Allison’s Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which are provided by the state to people with disabilities. Rather than spend the money on something Allison didn’t really need to avoid losing these benefits, her parents started researching other options. Initially, they explored moving the funds into Allison’s special needs trust, but found it would be difficult for Allison to withdraw the money when she did have an important or necessary expense.
And then they found ABLEnow.
ABLEnow accounts help individuals with disabilities save money to pay for qualified expenses, without being taxed on the earnings – and in most cases, without losing eligibility for certain means-tested benefit programs. A convenient ABLEnow debit card allows account owners to pay for a range of expenses such as housing, transportation, assistive technology, legal needs and much more. For Allison and her family, it was the perfect answer not only in the moment, but for the long-term.
"People with disabilities shouldn't be at a disadvantage for saving, but encouraged to do it - and without worrying about their benefits,” said Allison’s Dad, Jeffrey. “People with disabilities also have different and extra costs that many others don’t have.” Going forward, the Van Dorens now know they have a cushion for those costs, plus family and friends also can contribute to the account if they choose.
Since opening the account, Allison, who is enrolled at ECPI to become a medical assistant, has a renewed focus on saving for her future – in turn making her more independent. “I did use some of the money recently to buy a computer for school,” she said, “but my main goal is to save.”
Whether it’s saving money or saving worry, ABLEnow continues to help families with disabilities across Virginia, and the country. For the coming year, ABLEnow also is joining forces with Special Olympics Virginia’s Global Messengers – like Allison – to share information about ABLEnow accounts through website news stories (like this one!), social media content, and “live” webinars where athletes and advocates can ask ABLEnow representatives questions about the program.
Ready to learn more? Join us Oct. 28 at 12:30 pm ET for a “Lunch & Learn” with the ABLEnow team and a Special Olympics Virginia Global Messenger. During the live chat, you’ll hear more about the program and also have the chance to ask questions. Join us: facebook.com/specialolympicsvirginia.