ABLE United

Prepaid Card

General

How It Works

Benefits

Qualified Expenses

Eligibility

Opening an Account

Gifting

Tax Benefits

Giving the gift of financial freedom

ABLE accounts were created to help individuals with disabilities realize their hopes and dreams – and prepare for whatever their future may hold. As we enter the holiday season, now is a perfect time to contribute to your loved ones’ account through the gifting page and help contribute to their financial freedom.

“Special needs parents are overwhelmed as they try to put their arms around their child’s diagnosis,” says Linda Bennett, mother to Ryan who was diagnosed with an intellectual disability at an early age. “Everybody has a different journey, but ABLE United allows us to sleep better at night knowing our child’s financial future is safe.”

Built to be flexible, anyone can contribute to an ABLE United account on behalf of the individual with a disability, including the individual, family, friends—and even organizations like civic groups, churches, or non-profits.

“We can be recipients of other people’s kindness. We can also have the joy of giving back,” says Bobbi Wigand, Executive Director of Victory Living Programs in Fort Lauderdale.

Similar to a GoFundMe page, the gifting page can have an established goal and be shared with individuals and/or organizations as a way for them to give gifts instead of physical presents. It also allows those that want to help financially but, in the past, have feared jeopardizing their loved ones’ important benefits. With ABLE United, that fear is now eliminated as, generally, funds in or withdrawn from an account do not impact eligibility for current or future benefits.

The gifting page is also easily shareable on social media or through email to reach those that live both near and far.

It is important to note that all contributions made directly to an ABLE United account from a third-party are not considered income to the individual with a disability; rather, contributions are considered completed gifts.

As we reflect on the last year, it has certainly been challenging, but we are proud to see more and more Floridians choose ABLE United to support their savings goals – in turn, achieving financial flexibility and peace of mind.

Find out how to set up your gifting page here or download the gift form to give the gift of independence this year.

Faces of ABLE: Cody

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.”  

Becoming a Warrior

How One Brave Mom Is Navigating a Down Syndrome Diagnosis

 

Endurance over Speed

“I was going to do it all,” thought Florida mom, attorney and passionate special needs advocate Catherine Davey. A notion planted in almost every mother’s head and heart from the moment she sees the second line appear on a pregnancy test. Or, in Davey’s case, when she and her husband discovered they were expecting their third child, even when science had told them it would be impossible. In this case, the stakes were even higher, as they learned that their daughter would be born with Down syndrome.

As Davey soon found out, even before her spitfire daughter — Mae, now 6 — was born, the journey of parenting a child with Down syndrome would be a marathon, not a sprint. Fortunately, unlike most marathons, Davey learned that it would not be a solo endeavor, and that doing it all herself wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, be her expectation.

 

Find Your Tribe

Through the initial surprise and grief of the diagnosis, Davey and her family landed firmly in a place of optimism and unconditional love. The next step seemed logical; find others who have navigated a similar journey. Davey was shocked at the valuable relationships her village was able to provide.

She encourages anyone parenting or expecting a child with Down syndrome to join their local Down syndrome association. These communities are welcoming, encouraging and comforting. They offer transparency about their own experiences and an unparalleled sense of empathy, free of the kind of sympathy that can feel disingenuous.

“It’s a safe place to talk about DS, with people who love DS,” Davey said.

“They’ve seen the best, they’ve seen the worst, and they’re happy to love you. [Because] parenting a child with special needs isn’t competitive. It’s collaborative.”

 

Strategies to Survive and Thrive

The old adage that there is no playbook for parenting rings a little false to Davey because one of the best resources she’s discovered is an actual playbook for following up on potential medical issues for a baby/child with Down syndrome. Of course, each child’s journey is a little different, but the steps and situations discussed are tried and true. Davey found great success in following along when these scenarios mimicked her own experiences almost exactly.

Assembling your medical, emotional and mental support teams is also a crucial element according to Davey. From identifying top resources to finding the right person for your child, this one aspect simply cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach. And just because someone is internationally renowned, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be the right fit for your child. Similarly, what is working one month may not the next.

Davey says that you should feel empowered to find the right team for your family, and even if you find the perfect team for now, that does not mean they will always be the perfect team. Don’t be afraid to move on if that is what is best for your family.

Empowerment is important for any parent and child, but especially so for those working through special needs.

Davey advocates for utilizing every resource possible, including opening a tax-advantaged ABLE United savings account, to help support costs associated with care. Davey utilizes Mae’s ABLE account to pay for her different therapies — including applied behavior analysis, which she credits as helping Mae master skills and overcome challenges that are common for children with Down syndrome but are not covered by the family’s health insurance.

 

A Little Education Goes a Long Way

Unfortunately, a Down syndrome diagnosis can sometimes mean experiencing prejudice from even well-intentioned people. Davey recommends educating yourself to be prepared and empowered — so that you can focus on how to help your child rise to their full potential.

Normalizing Down syndrome is an ongoing effort that Davey is proud to be a part of. For instance, per Davey, “One in every 691 live births is a child with Down syndrome.” Staggering numbers such as this suggest the Down syndrome experience is everywhere in every race, every culture, and every financial level. Armed with those statistics and confident attitude, Davey is ready to take on the hardest part of parenting a child with Down syndrome: changing the world so that others can see the joy as well.

 

Find the Help You Need — to Be the Parent You Want to Be

There isn’t a parent in America who doesn’t feel overwhelmed from time to time, and this will undoubtedly apply to a parent raising a child with special needs. It’s okay to ask for help. Read that again — it’s okay, imperative, in fact, to ask for help. This means more than finding the right medical professionals and educational resources for your children. This could mean finding your own therapist, hiring a mother’s helper, asking a friend for help, delegating duties to older children, spouses or extended family — so that you can become the parent your child needs.

For Davey, her path to advocate, and ultimately warrior, was a clear one. She is a practicing attorney who has always practiced in the area of probate, guardianship and estate planning and has put that education and expertise to work for her family. Davey and her team, always careful to give credit where it’s due, were able to identify some gaps in Florida’s laws and rules as they pertain to guardian advocacy. Through hard work, dedication and collaboration, the Florida Supreme Court approved Davey’s work. Davey was quick to add that her path will undoubtedly look different from someone else’s, but the most important thing is to be true to who you are as a parent and as a person.

 

More than a Diagnosis — a Destiny

Though no parent imagines walking the path of a Down syndrome diagnosis, Davey is convinced that anyone who begins that journey will come to view it as a blessing. There are certainly challenges, but the highs are exhilarating. Watching your child achieve a lofty goal, seeing them change the world with their unabashed enthusiasm for life — these make up the best part of navigating a Down syndrome diagnosis.

“You’re always going to be a warrior for them,” Davey said.

Mae on a JumboTron in Times Square NYC

In 2018, the Davey family traveled to New York City to see Mae appear on a jumbotron in Times Square as part of the National Down Syndrome Society NYC Buddy Walk. A thrilling and telling experience for Davey who says, at the end of the day, if you ensure that your child is the star of their own show, then no diagnosis will derail their opportunity for a full life.

“This kid has made me the best version of myself. She’s turned my volume all the way up,” Davey beamed. “To see her succeed; to see her communicate; to see her be proud of herself and ride a bicycle and just be joyful is amazing. And she brings all of that out in all of us.”

Faces of ABLE: Geno

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.

ABLE at Home

The spring months generally provide the ABLE United team an opportunity to connect with thousands of Floridians with disabilities at in-person events, conferences and special presentations.  However, in this time of social distancing, we know that’s just not possible.

In an effort to stay connected, we are launching the ABLE at Home campaign.

From new hobbies and science experiments to learning life skills, connecting virtually with others and extending kind gestures to neighbors and friends – many are using this extra time to find the “silver lining.”

Throughout the month of May and June, we want to hear how you are spending your time at home. Share a photo of yourself and what you’re up to at home to be entered into our ABLE at Home giveaway. Three grand prize winners will win a brand new 10.2-inch iPad to help you stay connected with family, friends – even classmates. To review the iPad Promotion Guidelines, please click here

But, wait, there’s more.

Individuals who enroll in a new account between Friday, May 1 and Tuesday, June 30 and complete enrollment by depositing at least $25, will receive a FREE $75 contribution on us.

We hope that you’ll consider using this time to add enrolling in an ABLE United account to your to-do list and make saving for you or your loved one part of your daily, weekly or monthly routine.

We look forward to “seeing” you all this month while #ABLEatHome.

*Promotion Guidelines:
Enroll in a new ABLE United account between May 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020 on ableunited.com, and you will receive a $75 contribution into your new ABLE United account. This offer only applies to new accounts opened between May 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020. Funds earned will be deposited directly into your ABLE United account by October 1, 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 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.