Local meeting planned on ABLE Act

By Tom Joyce - [email protected]

Local residents unfamiliar with the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act — designed to help those with disabilities — have a chance to learn more about it during a presentation Monday in Mount Airy.

That measure was signed into law on Dec. 19, 2014, after many years of advocacy by disability organizations.

The ABLE Act basically allows parents to sock away money early in a child’s life so that he or she can afford to pay for future expenses such as housing, medical, transportation and education.

It provides for tax-free savings accounts to be established for families and individuals with disabilities, similar to the 529 qualified tuition programs that encourage families to save for their children’s college education.

The federal government paved the way in 2014 for each state to adopt its own law establishing an ABLE program and, in turn, allowing families to better prepare for a loved one’s long-term care.

North Carolina’s General Assembly did so in 2015, and the state has a goal of opening the first ABLE Act accounts this year.

Monday session

However, local residents who could benefit from the new law might not be aware of its provisions, which has prompted the Arc of Surry County to arrange a special presentation Monday on the subject. The Arc seeks to promote and protect the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.

Monday’s presentation is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. in Room 212 at L.H. Jones Family Resource Center, located at 215 Jones School Road.

It will be led by a representative from Arc-North Carolina, Julia Adams-Scheurih, director of government relations for the state group.

Annalisa Davis, director of L.H. Jones Family Resource Center, who’s also involved with a local Arc committee, says Monday’s session represents a rare occasion, in which an out-of-town speaker will participate in an event sponsored by the Surry organization.

Davis is hoping for a good turnout for Adams-Scheurih’s presentation so affected residents can learn more about the law. The ABLE Act is hailed by many in the disabled community as a godsend and a testament to how the much-maligned federal government does get it right at times.

To her knowledge, no such informational program on the subject has been scheduled locally until now, Davis said.

The new ABLE accounts are designed to allow more individual choice and control over spending, while protecting eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income and other important federal benefits for people with disabilities.

Without such accounts, many disabled individuals have extremely limited avenues to save and allow for further independence, Arc officials say.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.


By Tom Joyce

[email protected]

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