ABLE Account Dos and Donts
How to know if this is right for you
When in doubt about the latest and greatest solution for special needs families, I often recommend asking yourself, How does this thing fit into our overall strategy? Heck, ask yourself, What is our strategy? If the answer to that question is hazy, its time to start planning.
ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Accounts were signed into law in 2014 as a government sponsored solution to a problem that many special needs families face: How do I save money for those unknown tomorrows without it affecting our loved ones eligibility for Medicaid? Though ABLE accounts are new to the scene, fixes and products like this are not.
What I have consistently said for many years, through the experience of my own family and the families that we at the Dignity Group serve, is this: we need to have more strategy conversations than product conversations. Often, when the conversation is largely about a product (especially when its new and shiny) we are missing the larger conversation we need to be having.
What is our overall plan, anyway?
Dont get me wrong. Over the years, I have probably seen dozens of laws, products, solutions, and fixes introduced to help ease the woes of special needs families. Many of these products were part of my familys overall strategy for my son. Many of our families utilize such products as part of their overall strategy, but the focus should be on the concept and the process.
My point is, when considering if a product or solution is right for your family, the first thing you should think about is the overall strategy that you are building. The second thing you should consider is how this product (whatever you are considering) fits inside that strategy and your personal purposes.
As a way of helping with this topic, and the questions surrounding it, here are some dos and donts to help you, your family, and your expert consider solutions like ABLE accounts.
Do watch for new innovations in the law, often popularized in the news media. Innovations like these could be greatly helpful! (Perhaps.)
Dont think that every product or solution is right for your family especially when it is something that you believe you can enact or put in place without an expert involved.
Do review your overall strategy (it should be on paper) for your special needs family member.
Dont act as if a plan in your mind is the same thing as a plan on paper.
Do question how such a product, solution, concept or process could benefit and harm the overall strategy that you are putting in place.
Dont believe that every product created for disabled persons or special needs families is right for your disabled or special needs loved one.
Do meet with a knowledgeable person to discuss your options.
Dont rely upon a single opinion or friends experience as a final decision about next steps. Again, look at the strategy that you are building.
Do become a mini expert, dedicating time to research and self-educate. Do, however, watch your biases, emotions, and objectivity.
Dont ignore or discount the potential thousands of hours that a knowledgeable person has put into educating themselves about this topic. Pay attention if they have personal experience and have worked with many other families.
Undoubtedly, I will probably receive MANY phone calls about these plans from families wanting to know if the ABLE is right for them. You can guess what Ill ask them: How does this plan fit in your overall strategy? What is your familys strategy? Talk to you soon.
Image Copyright 2015 Lightstock, LLC and is licensed by Dignity Group, Inc. and is used with permission. Photo is for illustrative purposes only. Any person depicted in the photo, if any, is a model.