The ability to save is crucial in securing a life plan for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who often rely on public benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, and housing and food assistance to pay for things that they need to live in the community. However, many public benefits have very strict limits on how much money you can have to qualify and keep the benefits. How do people know what public benefits they are eligible for? How can people save to buy the things they want and need when they have so little money to start with? What are special needs trusts and ABLE accounts, and when should people have one? Our panel of experts provides an overview of these important issues, plus helpful resources.
Financial Planning for Families With a Member With Special Needs: by Theresa Varnet
Theresa Varnet, M.S.W. J.D., has been an advocate for people with disabilities and their families for over 50 years. She is a former teacher and social worker and is now an attorney with Spain, Spain & Varnet, P.C. in Chicago, Illinois and Fletcher Tilton, P.C. in Worcester, Massachusetts. Theresa joined the Arc in 1968 and has been an active volunteer with chapters of The Arc in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Kentucky. She is also the parent of an adult daughter with IDD.
Miranda Kennedy is the Director of the ABLE National Resource Center (ABLE NRC), the leading source of information on Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts. ABLE NRC’s mission is to educate, promote and support the positive impact ABLE can make on the lives of millions of Americans with disabilities and their families. Miranda served as Director of Training for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration’s national Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) and Disability Program Navigator Initiative (DPN) from 2006-2018. She holds a master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Denver Institute for Public Policy Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from University of Colorado at Boulder.
Delores Sallis is the founder of Parent University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Parent University serves as a resource for black families of people with disabilities and helps them navigate the systems of support for people with disabilities, including school systems, in the Milwaukee area. Delores has a great passion for the families she serves, because she knows there is a great divide of resources. Delores is the mother of five children, the youngest of which has multiple disabilities. She also has a granddaughter with cerebral palsy.