Congress Passes ABLE Act: Major Victory for Persons with Disabilities and Their Families

On December 19, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Achieving Better Life Expectancy (ABLE) Act. First introduced in 2006, and subsequent sessions of Congress, the ABLE Act will allow people with disabilities (with an age of onset up to 26 years old) and their families the opportunity to create a tax-exempt savings account that can be used for maintaining health, independence and quality of life.

For more information on the ABLE Act, please read NDI’s most recent press release or visit NDI’s ABLE Act webpage.

Resources for Real Economic Impact

First Steps in 2015

The following resources provide the first step you or your organization might take to learn more about each category.

 

Benefits 

A First Step to Understanding Social Security Benefits

The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) disability benefits system is complex and can be confusing to both beneficiaries and professionals alike. Where do you start your journey to better understand these benefits? Social Security has developed a basic guide to benefits and work incentives entitled the “Red Book.” If you are a professional or a beneficiary, this is a great place to start learning more about how work incentives support the return to work. To access the Red Book, please visit www.ssa.gov/redbook.

Employment 

A First Step Toward New Partnerships: Understanding the Disability Employment System

Individuals with disabilities have access to a range of generic and disability-specific employment services. Several key players within the public workforce system include American Job Centers (also called Workforce Centers or One Stops), Vocational Rehabilitation and the Division of Blind Services. Learn more about these key entities and other service providers as a first step toward developing new partnerships with disability service providers by watching an archived recording of a recent NDI webinar.

Taxes and Tax Preparation 

A First Step Toward Connecting to Free Tax Preparation: MyFreeTaxes Marketing Materials

Marketing materials are now available on the MyFreeTaxes Affiliate Portal! You can download numerous marketing materials including customizable and noncustomizable fliers, door hangers, digital banners, folders and much more. Marketing materials are also available in Spanish. Be sure to review the information at the top of the "Print Materials" page before customizing materials for your program. In addition, there will soon be a social media toolkit consisting of infographics and suggested social media posts for Twitter and Facebook, so be on the lookout! Once complete, the toolkit will be made available on the “Social Media” page of the Affiliate Portal. Finally, the MyFreeTaxes Partnership is developing a Veterans-specific flier to help spread the word for eligible servicemembers and their families. This flier will be available in February 2015. As a reminder: keep checking the Affiliate Portal for new marketing resources throughout the tax season! 

Financial Education 

A First Step Toward Creating a Financial Education Program

If your goal in 2015 is to create a financial education program for individuals you serve, your first step should be to check the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) Money Smart Program. A comprehensive financial education curriculum, Money Smart is designed to help low- and moderate-income individuals outside the financial mainstream enhance their financial skills and create positive banking relationships. Research shows that the curriculum positively and substantially influences how consumers manage their finances.

Learn more about Money Smart.

Asset Development 

A First Step to Becoming an IDA Provider

Individual Development Accounts (IDA) are viable resources helping individuals successfully save for certain assets such as acquiring a first home, opening a small business or enrolling in postsecondary education or training. Funding for IDAs comes from the Assets for Independence (AFI) Program through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. AFI’s website provides information on the grant process and on determining if the AFI Program is right for your organization. To learn more on becoming an IDA provider, please visit AFI’s webpage.

Public Policy 

A First Step Towards Understanding the ABLE Act

The ABLE Act is now law! In recognition of this unprecedented legislation, NDI has created a list of 6 next steps an individual or family can take to become ABLE account ready.

View a video of NDI Executive Director Michael Morris explaining, “ABLE Account Planning: Six Next Steps in 2015.

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Issue 12 - Jan 2015 

In This Issue

Congress Passes ABLE Act: Major Victory for Persons with Disabilities and Their Families

Benefits: A First Step to Understanding Social Security Benefits

Employment: A First Step Toward New Partnerships: Understanding the Disability Employment System

Tax Preparation: A First Step Toward Connecting to Free Tax Preparation: MyFreeTaxes Marketing Materials

Financial Education: A First Step Toward Creating a Financial Education Program

Asset Development: A First Step to Becoming an IDA Provider

Public Policy: A First Step Towards Understanding the ABLE Act

Program Spotlight:  MyFreeTaxes

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Program Spotlight 

MyFreeTaxes

MyFreeTaxes LogoNational Disability Institute is proud to be one of the core national partners in the MyFreeTaxes initiative. Funded by the Walmart Foundation, MyFreeTaxes provides free federal and state tax preparation and filing assistance in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, to eligible individuals and households earning $60,000 or less for online and $53,000 or less for in-person tax preparation assistance in 2014. The program has helped millions of individuals and families claim more than $10 billion dollars in tax credits and refunds since 2009.

The MyFreeTaxes Partnership is championed by three leading nonprofits: Goodwill Industries International, National Disability Institute, and United Way. Since 2009, MyFreeTaxes has expanded from 6 percent of taxpayers with disabilities to over 13 percent of taxpayers with disabilities accessing free tax preparation resources, with a significant 19 percent of taxpayers with disabilities filing online via www.MyFreeTaxes.com. Join the MyFreeTaxes Affiliate Portal today to access free marketing materials, best practices and other valuable resources. Please visit http://affiliate.myfreetaxes.com for more information.

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Upcoming Events 

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