Supports and Services
At the end of 2019, the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) will have reached a fifth birthday, since enactment by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of Congress in 2014. For the intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) community, an ABLE account offers an individual with I/DD transformative change opportunities in quality of life experience related to employment, education and community integration in both the short and long term. There were over 35,000 ABLE accounts open nationwide at the end of 2018 across 41 states and the District of Columbia that have ABLE programs with over 170 million dollars under investment. The number of accounts being opened is growing at 18 percent per quarter. However, less than one percent of eligible individuals with significant disabilities have opened an account or had an Authorized Legal Representative open an account on their behalf.
Involvement and engagement in ABLE Act implementation is central to the work of The Arc.The disability field and chapters of The Arc have a unique opportunity to provide the leadership for extraordinary individual and systems level change in all states and territories that educates, supports and grows the understanding and use of ABLE accounts. An account is a tool to engage a circle of support of family members, friends, coworkers and others to set expanded goals for lifelong learning, community living and integration, employment and self-determination.
This session will explore the state of ABLE: challenges and opportunities to the I/DD community at an individual and systems level. One hundred percent of the I/DD population is ABLE-eligible. Since the passage of the ADA, no enacted congressional policy change offers more potential to increase self-determination and provide the opportunity to develop an individualized personal road map for greater productivity, health and wellness, independence and community integration.
This session will separate fact from fiction about ABLE accounts, offer a rich picture of how ABLE account owners are using their accounts to optimize their human potential and set the stage for the active engagement of all parts of the I/DD community to design and implement a transformative and comprehensive set of actions that provide new expectations and outcomes. This includes strategies for integrating financial capability, with ABLE accounts serving as an “anchor” for that increased self-sufficiency, into systems and individual level planning.