Cody is always striving for independence.
She is employed at Bealls in Sarasota as a cashier and is also a senior at the University of South Florida studying Professional and Technical Communications. Born with Spina Bifida, she is determined to be both personally and financially independent, and her ABLE United account allows her to do just that.
Having first learned about ABLE United by attending the Annual Family Café event, which is the largest disability conference in the state, Cody was instantly drawn to the fact that she would be able to save without impacting her benefits.
As a Supplemental Security Income recipient, she is only allowed $2,000 in resources. But, with ABLE United, she is realizing her dreams – and because of her account and the ability to now save over $2,000, she is the proud owner of a bright red 2020 Toyota Corolla.
“Purchasing my first car was a big goal for me, and it’s something I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to achieve without my ABLE account,” she shared.
Cody is able to contribute leftover funds from her federal financial aid and the earnings from her job into her account to pay for everyday living expenses and save for the future. Her next goal? Saving to purchase her first home.
By not being defined by her diagnosis, she is breaking out of societal norms and sharing her talents and passions with others.
“I am living with no limits thanks to my ABLE United account,” explained Cody. “My hope is that the resource restrictions and income limits will be removed one day; but, for now, I have achieved financial freedom.”
Photo taken in December 2019 during the social event “Somos” celebrating consumers, peers, allies, and community partners that took place at Ball and Chain in Miami.
The Independent Living Philosophy proposes that people with disabilities know their needs best and have the right to be in control of their lives.
One of the most common misconceptions of this belief is the idea that independent living can only be achieved by some persons with disabilities and with help from able-bodied people. But truth is – anyone is capable.
In the wake of the Hurricane Andrew devastation of 1993, the Center for Independent Living of South Florida was established to serve the unmet needs of those with disabilities in the community. One of 16 centers in Florida, all of our services are available for individuals of any age and any disability, including visible and non-visible disabilities, at no cost.
Serving Miami-Dade County and beyond, our social programming and initiatives are designed to create a fully integrated community with core services including: Information and Referral, Peer Support, Advocacy, Transitions (into post-secondary education, community living, workforce, etc.), and Independent Living Skills. These services are critical as they increase the income-earning potential of persons with disabilities and reduce their reliance on social service programs and institutional care.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our services have evolved to address the needs of those we serve – and as a result, since March we have been offering all our services virtually, in addition to hosting virtual events to keep our community engaged.
For those seeking to strengthen their independent living skills or simply in need of peer support – we can help! It does not matter what your goal is, we can help to connect you with the best service for your needs and aspirations! In fact, over 50% of our team are people with disabilities and can share experiences and tips that can guide you in achieving your independent living goals. In 2018, Centers for Independent Living across Florida peer mentored 3,080 individuals.
For more information on the Center for Independent Living of South Florida, please visit www.cilsf.org.
Alison Dos Santos is the Community Engagement Coordinator at the Center for Independent Living of South Florida.
There is a lot to be said for putting your spare change to work for you – and the truth is, you have to start somewhere. As children, one of the most commonly known places to save was through a piggy bank.
Today, saving comes in many forms, and for the disability community, an ABLE United account is one of them.
When ABLE accounts became a reality, it expanded the opportunities by offering individuals a smarter, safer way to save tax-free while maintaining the important benefits they rely on. It also offers unique benefits like saving with the help of family and friends through a gifting page, as well as custom investment options that allow your money to make money for you.
America Saves reports that those with a savings plan are twice as likely to save successfully – even more so when a short-term goal is set, like committing to save $20 a week (or a month) for six months versus setting a goal to save $500 a month for a year.
Now, more than ever, future planning is critical especially when it comes to planning for the “unexpected”.
So, in an effort to encourage saving, we are launching the Save in September Campaign. Now until September 30, when you complete enrollment online and contribute at least $25, you will receive a FREE $50 contribution into your new ABLE account (a “digital” piggy bank that works harder for you).
We are also running a special Facebook giveaway where all you have to do is share what you’re saving for with ABLE United to be entered to win. Three winners will take home a brand new 10.2-inch iPad. To review the Promotion Guidelines, please click here.
Whether you’re a current account holder, or considering trying out an account, we hope you’ll join us and make saving with ABLE United for you or your loved one part of your daily, weekly, or monthly routine.
Enroll in a new ABLE United account between September 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020 on ableunited.com, and you will receive a $50 contribution into your new ABLE United account. This offer only applies to new accounts opened between September 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020. Funds earned will be deposited directly into your ABLE United account 6-12 weeks after the promotion ends. ABLE United is a savings and investment plan that may be used to set aside funds for qualified disability expenses. Funds may be used tax-free to pay for any qualified disability expense. This promotion is limited to the first 500 accounts. ABLE United reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any individual it finds to be in violation of the guidelines or any laws, or to be attempting to undermine the legitimate operation of the promotion by cheating, hacking, deception, or any other unfair practices. Please review the Program Description and Participation Agreement before opening an account.
Born and raised in Miami, Geno is a star athlete on the Special Olympics National Team representing Florida in softball. His infectious personality makes him a stellar teammate and friend.
At an early age, Geno was diagnosed with autism but that has not slowed him down. In addition to the medals he’s won during his time competing in the Special Olympics, he has also served as a Customer Service Representative at Publix for 12 years.
His mother, Shebah, often describes her son as “gregarious.” Shebah shared that he enjoys everything that the Sunshine State has to offer, including sports (his favorite team being the Miami Heat), fishing, and music.
To ensure Geno’s financial future, Shebah recently opened an ABLE United account. “Being a single mother, I understand how important his financial independence would be to improve his quality of life,” she explained.
Since the day he was born, Shebah has wanted the best for Geno and has worked hard to set him up for success.
“Even before his diagnosis, I wanted Geno to be an active member of the community, contributing his many talents, regardless of his career path or disability,” she shared.
As advocates of the savings program, Geno and his mother are teaming up as the newest ABLE United Ambassadors. “We are excited to share with others how ABLE United has helped set him up for success and truly achieve a better life experience,” Shebah said proudly.
July 26 will mark the 30th anniversary of President George H.W. Bush signing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law, which was created to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
Since then, the disability community has seen an increase in access and inclusion in areas such as employment, education, communications, transportation, and other aspects of public life.
The ADA also made it easier to see other areas of disparity, such as the need to provide the opportunity for those with disabilities to save. Nearly a decade ago, friends, advocates, and neighbors joined around a kitchen table to discuss the importance of establishing a financial future for their children with disabilities – just as they could for their children without disabilities.
Due to the precedent that the ADA set, the passage of legislation like the Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act in 2014 was made possible. Now, thousands of individuals with disabilities are saving for their futures through ABLE United, Florida’s qualified ABLE program.
So, in recognition of this special milestone, we are throwing a virtual birthday party. From Monday, July 20 through Monday, July 27 at 5:00 p.m. ET, enter our Facebook giveaway by sharing why the ADA is important to you. Five winners will receive a pair of Apple AirPods and 30 winners will receive a $30 contribution into their ABLE United account.
While there’s still more work to be done to ensure equality for the disability community, 30 years is a milestone worthy of a big celebration!
To view the giveaway rules, click here.
Becky is a plant nursery assistant where she has been employed for more than 22 years. While she has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, partial deafness and other mental disabilities, she has never let that hold her back.
“Our daughter Becky has several disabilities and challenges in her life – with her greatest challenge being her mental disability,” shared her mother, Sandra. “But that hasn’t stopped her! She has worked hard and is greatly admired at her job for her consistent attendance and eagerness to do anything asked of her.”
Becky also worked a second job part-time with the goal of saving enough money to buy a new house nearby. Due to COVID-19, she was furloughed and lost an estimated $160 per week in income.
Her mother, Sandra, first learned about ABLE United in 2017, and decided to help Becky open an account of her own. “In the beginning, she didn’t have much income to contribute but we are grateful to have been able to save even a small amount as it has helped her through this challenging time,” explained her mother.
With an ABLE United account, Becky has been able to save and begin developing a financial emergency fund – which she ended up needing sooner than she thought.
“They say you should have six months’ worth of income saved to survive the ‘hard times’,” shared Sandra. “Maybe poor health or loss of a job or a natural disaster – whatever it is, you need the security of knowing you can pay your bills and put food on the table, especially if you don’t have family to help.”
When Becky retires, she will need far more than what she currently has saved. Her mother explained, “It is never too early and no amount is too little to contribute and start saving.”
Last year we transitioned our Customer Service and Records management to Sumday Administration, LLC. This transition not only added program enhancements—but also a new Customer Service team.
At ABLE United, we know that it’s critical to have a team that is reliable and prepared to answer important questions about saving with an ABLE account. You might have questions like:
- How do I know if I am (or my child) is eligible for an account?
- Does this purchase count as a Qualified Disability Expense?
- How does my ABLE United account work with SSI and/or Medicaid?
- How do I make a contribution or withdrawal?
- Can you help me enroll?
The good news is that our team is here to help—we can walk you through the enrollment process to help you get started saving today.
Ready to connect?
Our Customer Service team can be reached at 1-888-524-2253 (Mon–Fri, 9am–5pm ET), or 1-844-888-2253 TTY (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm ET).
The Florida Relay Service provides communications assistance to individuals with hearing, speech or vision disabilities. Dial 711.
As part of our recent account enhancements, Customer Service can now be reached via live chat. Just look for the blue chat button in the bottom right corner of our website during regular business hours and click to initiate a conversation, prior to or during the enrollment process. You can even request Customer Service to view your screen to help resolve an issue.
You can also contact our Customer Service team via email here.
As the world continues to cope with the impacts of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to reassure you that we’re still here.
Given the ever-changing nature of this situation, ABLE United would like to remind and encourage account holders to take advantage of all our available online services. The fastest way to perform things like making contributions, withdrawals, address updates, or even changing your investment options, is to do so online.
Our Customer Service team stands ready to help you over the phone or via live chat on our website should you have any questions or need to make adjustments to your account.
We also encourage individuals who have any specific questions pertaining to the personal impact of COVID-19 to take advantage of the available resources.
Individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income may have to wait until May to receive their economic impact funds. These funds may be contributed to an ABLE account without impacting current or future public benefits. For more information visit:
IRS – Coronavirus Tax Relief
SSI and Economic Impact Payments
Social Security Association Beneficiaries with Dependents – April 20, 2020
Social Security Association Beneficiaries with Dependents – April 20, 2020 Spanish
We are sad that we won’t get the opportunity to see many of you at springtime events, but hope you’ll continue to engage with us via Facebook. In fact, we’d love to hear how you are passing the time at home whether that be a new hobby, creative exercises or spreading joy through your neighborhoods with kind gestures – tag us in your posts with @ABLEUnited.
We’ll see you again soon!
One in ten Floridians have a disability, but it’s not holding you back from pursuing your hopes and dreams to find a meaningful career, go to college, buy your first car or travel the world.
Throughout the month of February, we are celebrating you – the individuals we serve – and how you are pushing the boundaries not only in your lives, but in your communities. At ABLE United, we know that our account holders aren’t defined by their diagnosis – in fact, you embrace it by breaking out of societal norms and sharing your talents and passions with others.
The No Limits Campaign celebrates just that. But most importantly, it showcases how our account holders are Achieving a Better Life Experience through ABLE United.
Interested in sharing your story and how you’re saving with ABLE United? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line “No Limits 2020” and attach a photo for your chance to be featured on our Facebook page.
Not an account holder?
When you enroll in a new account anytime during the month of February and complete enrollment by depositing at least $25, you’ll receive a FREE $50 contribution on us.
Together we have no limits!
Enroll in a new ABLE United account between February 1, 2020 and February 29, 2020 on ableunited.com, and you will receive a $50 contribution into your new ABLE United account. This offer only applies to new accounts opened between February 1, 2020 and February 29, 2020. Funds earned will be deposited directly into your ABLE United account by March 31, 2020. ABLE United is a savings and investment plan that may be used to set aside funds for qualified disability expenses. Funds may be used tax-free to pay for any qualified disability expense. This promotion is limited to the first 5,000 accounts. ABLE United reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any individual it finds to be in violation of the guidelines or any laws, or to be attempting to undermine the legitimate operation of the promotion by cheating, hacking, deception, or any other unfair practices. Please review the Program Description and Participation Agreement before opening an account.
Olivia and her twin sister, Adrianna, were born five weeks early, each weighing a little more than five pounds and no indication of disability. It wasn’t until Olivia was four months old that her parents, Tara and Jason, realized something wasn’t right.
The prognosis continued to be unclear until she was 18 months old and was formally diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
While Olivia has faced challenges over the years, now at the age of 21, she is a vibrant and passionate young woman. “She is almost always smiling,” said her mother, Tara. She loves music, planning her schedule, cooking with family – and most importantly, theater.
In 2017, the family learned about ABLE United from an organization called Let’s Cure CP.
“As I researched this amazing savings plan, I knew that it was an opportunity to invest for Olivia’s future life expenses,” explained Tara.
Today, Tara helps Olivia manage her finances and she deposits a portion of her monthly SSI income into her ABLE United account. They primarily use her account for saving for the future but have withdrawn money for items such as furniture for her apartment, as well as therapy.
“I opened her account on her behalf, so that she is able to save and invest, simply and cost effectively, with little maintenance or fees,” shared Tara, who recently became an ABLE United Brand Ambassador.
Her mother also shared, “My hope is that this account will continue to grow over the years, as well as give her flexibility and peace of mind as she lives her best life!”