This week we celebrate the start of spring (March 20) as well as World Down Syndrome Day (March 21). The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) encourages people to commemorate the day with a “virtual” 3.21 event. Run, walk, bike, hike, swim or move 3.21 miles to celebrate and raise awareness.
The focus for many families with special-needs children and young adults is often ability and what a loved one can do. A new option could soon offer great transportation choices for those in the Denver metro area. Lyft, in partnership with NDSS, has started offering convenient and affordable transportation through ABLE accounts.
What are ABLE accounts?
To qualify for Supplemental Security Income and Health First Colorado, people with disabilities generally could not hold more than $2,000 in assets in their names. In 2014, Congress passed the Achieving Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act) so that those with serious disabilities could save more money without affecting benefit eligibility.
Colorado ABLE followed a few years later. We wrote about the details of the program in a September 2018 post.
The law created categories of “qualified disability expenses” and one is transportation. However, ABLE accounts that issue debit cards are unable to connect into Lyft’s payment platform.
Inclusion and independence in transportation
The Oregon ABLE plan and the OHIO STABLE plan (available nationally) can now be linked by tapping the payment tab and adding debit card information at the “Add credit card” screen. It is not yet clear if or when the Colorado plan will be linkable, but it might be worth asking or reaching out to a local advocacy group.
Additional transportation options can make getting to classes, medical appointments, social activities and work much easier. For those how have been dependent on public transportation, rides or shuttles from a group home, this can provide more freedom.
One component of broader special-needs planning
The transportation issue is one part of the puzzle. Special-needs planning requires a comprehensive team approach that incorporates professionals who can anticipate problems and help develop solutions.
Having an attorney as part of the team is important for the long term, which may include assisting with guardianship and conservatorship hearings or setting up a special-needs trust.