As the unfair stigma that so often followed people with disabilities begins to slowly fade, companies are recognizing that not only is this a new clientele, but that they have an opportunity to provide access to services that will allow individuals with disabilities to be much more involved in their own day-to-day responsibilities.
Voya Financial, the banking and investment firm that was once AIG, has begun focusing on these individuals by encouraging them to apply for other services such as SSI and SSDI based on their answers to certain questions.
In addition, Voya will provide access to databases that have information on myriad governmental programs and their standards for qualification.
“Changes like these are incredibly important,” said Lawrence Disparti, a Florida Disability Attorney with the Disparti Law Group. “Individuals that become disabled later in life or are born with a disability deserve every opportunity to live fulfilling, independent lives. Providing them with financial services geared to their needs, just like every other financial service, ensures the opportunity to do just that.”
One of the most important changes has been the passage of the ABLE Act. ABLE, which stands for “Achieving a Better Life Experience” is a change in the law as it relates to the ability of individuals with disabilities who receive needs-tested government assistance to accumulate assets.
The ABLE Act allows individuals to establish qualifying accounts that can accumulate balances more than many of the means-tested program limits with disqualifying these individuals for the services they need to continue living independently.
ABLE accounts have limits in terms of total accumulation amounts — an individual’s account cannot exceed $100,000.00. However, when combined with additional estate planning, such as Special Needs Trusts, individuals with disabilities can live independently and possibly in a self-supporting manner.
“The ability to accumulate assets and have regular access to those assets enables these individuals to live independently and achieve life goals,” said Disparti. “Giving them access to regular investment services and guidance will ensure that the assets that do accumulate grow and are available for the long-term.”