NC ABLE Newsletter - December 30, 2021
Enthusiasm Continues for the NC ABLE Program
Awareness of NC ABLE continues to gain momentum! Over the past year, we have nearly doubled our account holders and have more than two times the number of assets. We extend our thanks to the NC ABLE participants, advocates, and all of those promoting awareness of this program and its benefits to those who are eligible.
- There are now over 1,600 account holders;
- with more than $14.7 million in assets;
- and an average account balance of over $9,150!*
*Stats updated as of 12/10/2021
Let’s maintain momentum, extend our enthusiasm and continue to raise awareness!
One of the best things we can do to raise awareness is to hear from you! Help us to learn how you use the NC ABLE Program, what we can do to improve processes like enrollment and account maintenance, and understand the different ways we can inform you and others about NC ABLE features.
Stephanie Antkowiak is the Executive Director of The Arc of High Point and a mother of two children with NC ABLE accounts.
NC ABLE: How did you learn about the NC ABLE Program?
Stephanie: I am fortunate to work for The Arc and knew when the ABLE legislation was passed at the Federal level. I also attended a great training sponsored by the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities and the National Disability Institute where I learned more about the program.
NC ABLE: Why did you/your children choose to open NC ABLE accounts?
Stephanie: As soon as North Carolina created NC ABLE accounts our son, Sam, opened an account. He had graduated from high school and started working, and we wanted to show him how to save. We want Sam to learn how to manage his own finances as he builds his work history and becomes independent. I think families fear losing benefits or the safety net of benefits. The NC ABLE account allows Sam to work and save over the $2000 limit set by the Social Security Administration for those receiving SSI benefits. More than anything we do not have to worry about “spending down” when we reach that $2000 limit.
My daughter Caroline also has a disability but does not receive SSI. She attends a four-year university and could save in the NC ABLE account — we wanted her to learn to save for her college expenses.
NC ABLE: What can you tell others about the process of opening a NC ABLE account?
Stephanie: It is a simple online process! It only takes about 20-30 minutes. You do need to know how you want to invest so you may want to consult first with a financial advisor.
NC ABLE: How are the NC ABLE accounts for your children being used?
Stephanie: Sam direct deposits a monthly amount from his earnings into his NC ABLE account. If he gets close to his $2000 limit in his checking accounts, we will move a larger portion to his NC ABLE account. We have primarily used his funds for college where he is enrolled at UNC Greensboro. We do envision him using his NC ABLE account for housing, employment, and independent living needs in the future.
Caroline has also used her NC ABLE funds for her education.
NC ABLE: What activities do you and your family enjoy together?
Stephanie: We enjoy spending time together at the beach. This is our happy place! We also love visiting family and friends in South Carolina and Maryland.
NC ABLE: Do you have any advice for others who may not have experienced the NC ABLE Program yet?
Stephanie: My best advice is to educate yourself on how a NC ABLE account works and how it can benefit your family member. This is another tool in your toolbelt to help manage government benefits. More than anything, we do not have to worry about spending down when we reach that $2000 limit.
Want to hear more from Stephanie and her son Sam? Check out their story on WXII, “Helping developmentally disabled with tax free savings plan known as 'ABLE,” in the NC ABLE in the News section below!
We invite you to share your story! Please take our survey or send us an email if you are interested in being a part of an upcoming newsletter or website feature.
NC ABLE was proud to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in October! The purpose of NDEAM is to educate the public about disability employment issues and recognize the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities.
This year’s theme for NDEAM was “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion.” Held annually, NDEAM is led by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, but employers of all sizes and in all industries are encouraged to participate. At NC ABLE we are proud to support working individuals with a disability, who are allowed to save or contribute more than the annual $15,000 account limit with the ABLE-to-Work provision.
Kicking off the month, State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, took a tour of at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College to raise awareness of the NC ABLE Program, and recognize individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are part of the work force and help to contribute to the Buncombe County and state economies. A-B Tech is the host site for Project SEARCH, a transition-to-work training, job placement and coaching program operated by The Arc of North Carolina.
“North Carolina is in an employment crisis, which compounds the challenge of too many businesses still struggling to emerge from the economic slowdowns of the past year and a half,” said Treasurer Folwell, who is a staunch advocate of employing disabled individuals. “This is a ready, able and willing segment of the labor force that can help to fill business vacancies. And NC ABLE provides further means for those workers to experience the joy of achievement and upward mobility that every North Carolinian deserves.”
At NC ABLE, we do not just talk about this topic one month out year—we think it is important to talk about every day. Let’s keep the conversation going!
- To learn more about National Disability Employment Awareness Month: National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2021 | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov).
- To watch Treasurer Folwell talk about Disability Employment Awareness Month and the NC ABLE Program: State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA Discusses National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
- To learn more about Treasurer Folwell’s visit in Asheville: NC Treasurer: Treasurer Folwell Recognizes NC ABLE Participants in Asheville.
- To learn more about the ABLE-to-Work provision: NC Treasurer: NC ABLE.
There are currently two key, bipartisan pieces of legislation related to ABLE accounts happening nationwide. Both bills are currently pending approval by Congress.
- This bill was first introduced on July 22, 2021.
- It would allow an employer to make contributions to an employee’s NC ABLE account in place of contributions to a retirement plan.
- What is most impactful about this bill is that NC ABLE account holders will be able to capitalize on employer contributions without it counting toward asset limits that could affect their eligibility for federal benefits.
- To learn more: Text of H.R. 4672: ABLE Employment Flexibility Act (Introduced version) - GovTrack.us.
ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S.331)
- This bill was first introduced on February 22, 2021.
- It increases ABLE program eligibility by allowing people who have a disability before age 46 to open ABLE accounts (vs. the current age of 26 years old).
- This bill would expand program access to an estimated more than 6 million adults with disabilities, including 1 million veterans with disabilities.
- To learn more: S.331 - 117th Congress (2021-2022): ABLE Age Adjustment Act | Congress.gov | Library of Congress.
One of the things that sets the NC ABLE Program apart is the fact that it is governed by a six-member Board of Trustees. The makeup of the NC ABLE Program Board of Trustees is mandated by the NC ABLE Act, N.C. G.S. 147- 86.52. The Board is responsible for administration of the program and provides an added level of oversight in managing the plans.
- Treasurer, Dale R. Folwell, CPA, Chair
- Chris Egan, Senior Director, NCDHHS (designee of Mandy Cohen)
- Katherine M.R. Bosken, NC Commissioner of Banks
- Marquita Robertson (appointed by Governor)
- Melinda Plue (appointed by Speaker of the House)
- Carlton Tim Smith (appointed by President Pro Tempore of the Senate)
We would welcome the opportunity to share more information with the community about the NC ABLE Program! Pre-recorded video presentations that provide in-depth background information on the federal ABLE Program and NC ABLE can be found here: NC ABLE Program - YouTube.
For any questions, suggestions, feedback, or comments about NC ABLE, please email us at NCABLE@nctreasurer.com.
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