Stephanie Antkowiak is the Executive Director of The Arc of High Point and a mother of two children with NC ABLE accounts.
NC ABLE: How did you learn about the NC ABLE Program?
Stephanie: I am fortunate to work for The Arc and knew when the ABLE legislation was passed at the Federal level. I also attended a great training sponsored by the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities and the National Disability Institute where I learned more about the program.
NC ABLE: Why did you/your children choose to open NC ABLE accounts?
Stephanie: As soon as North Carolina created NC ABLE accounts our son, Sam, opened an account. He had graduated from high school and started working, and we wanted to show him how to save. We want Sam to learn how to manage his own finances as he builds his work history and becomes independent. I think families fear losing benefits or the safety net of benefits. The NC ABLE account allows Sam to work and save over the $2000 limit set by the Social Security Administration for those receiving SSI benefits. More than anything we do not have to worry about “spending down” when we reach that $2000 limit.
My daughter Caroline also has a disability but does not receive SSI. She attends a four-year university and could save in the NC ABLE account — we wanted her to learn to save for her college expenses.
NC ABLE: What can you tell others about the process of opening a NC ABLE account?
Stephanie: It is a simple online process! It only takes about 20-30 minutes. You do need to know how you want to invest so you may want to consult first with a financial advisor.
NC ABLE: How are the NC ABLE accounts for your children being used?
Stephanie: Sam direct deposits a monthly amount from his earnings into his NC ABLE account. If he gets close to his $2000 limit in his checking accounts, we will move a larger portion to his NC ABLE account. We have primarily used his funds for college where he is enrolled at UNC Greensboro. We do envision him using his NC ABLE account for housing, employment, and independent living needs in the future.
Caroline has also used her NC ABLE funds for her education.
NC ABLE: What activities do you and your family enjoy together?
Stephanie: We enjoy spending time together at the beach. This is our happy place! We also love visiting family and friends in South Carolina and Maryland.
NC ABLE: Do you have any advice for others who may not have experienced the NC ABLE Program yet?
Stephanie: My best advice is to educate yourself on how a NC ABLE account works and how it can benefit your family member. This is another tool in your toolbelt to help manage government benefits. More than anything, we do not have to worry about spending down when we reach that $2000 limit.
Want to hear more from Stephanie and her son Sam? Check out their story on WXII, “Helping developmentally disabled with tax free savings plan known as 'ABLE.”