Taking the Full Life Process International

Blue and green logo for Community Living Essex County

COMMUNITY LIVING ESSEX COUNTY, located in Ontario, Canada, believes every individual is essential to the success of the entire community. With over 725 employees supporting over 700 individuals with intellectual disabilities, we knew that our collaborative approach could help this agency support its participants.

“People were asking for a change in their living environments, and we had difficulty determining the level of support needed to assist more independent living,” says project manager Shelbey Pillon. Her organization became involved with Center for Independent Futures as the agency researched tools to aid accurate skills assessments. With more than 300 identified skills and 150 lessons with resources to train skills, our Full Life Process fit the bill.

“The Full Life Process addresses a common struggle among large agencies,” Shelbey says. “The process allows organizations that have many staff working with an individual to efficiently coordinate support.” Because the online application is easy to access by multiple staff members, the agency team can work collaboratively with concrete information to teach and track skill progress. “Staff can monitor progress and share information so everyone knows what has been accomplished and can begin working where other team members left off.”

“It is a thrill to work with our first international partner,” shares Chrissy Lewis, Center for Independent Futures’ Full Life Process Consultant. “Working with Shelbey’s team has been so exciting. They are thinking outside the box as they work to implement the use of the Full Life Process in their organization.”

Our comprehensive, person-centered approach to skills assessment, skill training, and life planning helps us build partnerships with service providers like this one. Working with our programs, Community Living Essex County is able to support people as they follow their dreams toward more independent living.

7 Answers You Need About ABLE Accounts

A Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts are new savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. If you would like to be able to save more than $2,000 for rainy days in your future, ABLE accounts are probably something you have considered. On March 22nd, Center for Independent Futures proudly hosted JJ Hanley from the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office for a presentation on the new ABLE accounts.

If you are worried you aren’t eligible for or have other concerns about ABLE accounts, read this blog to learn from Director of IL ABLE, JJ Hanley, about the ins and outs of these new savings accounts.

1. What is an ABLE account?

Scrabble pieces spell out "savings account," which is what ABLE accounts are.ABLE accounts are new savings accounts, specifically for individuals with disabilities. This is a way for you to save money without losing any of your SSI or SSDI benefits — or any other federal, means-tested benefits. States created ABLE accounts with the hope they would help individuals have the opportunity for independence and self-reliance.

2. Do I qualify for an ABLE account?

Now that you know what an ABLE account is, you are probably asking if an ABLE account is right for you. There are very few qualifications to meet for ABLE accounts. First, you must have a disability. Second, the age of onset of your disability must be before age 26.  However, that does not mean that you had to be diagnosed before age 26. If your disability started at age 15, but you weren’t diagnosed until age 32, you can still qualify for an ABLE savings account.

3. Who should open an ABLE account?

An ABLE account is right for you if you’re someone with a disability, and you want to be able to save more than $2,000 at a time. This is particularly true if you are working a job. You can save $15,000 a year in an ABLE account without affecting your SSI benefits, and you can save up to $100,000 within an account.

4. When can I use an ABLE account?

You might have many questions about when you can use savings from an ABLE account. The quick answer is: any living expenses related to a disability. But as these accounts are new, you may need to experiment to find out what limits exist, if any. One goal in creating ABLE accounts is to end the isolation within the community, so there is a lot of wiggle room in what counts as disability related.

5. What options do I have with ABLE accounts?

There are several options to choose from when you decide to open an ABLE account. You can either open a checking account or one of six risk-targeted investment options. It is important to discuss these options with someone you trust before making a decision.

6. How do I open an ABLE account?

You should not go to a bank and try to open one of these accounts because most people won’t know what you’re referring to. You can open an ABLE account online through the ABLE IL website or by calling the Illinois ABLE office.

7. Whose name is a debit card in with an Authorized Individual?

A gold piggy bank against a dark backgroundFinally, if there is an Authorized Individual included on the ABLE account, the agency issues the debit card in the Authorized Individual’s name. This means that if an individual is unable to make financial decisions on their own, a parent or legal guardian is able to make sure the money is spent when necessary.

At Center for Independent Futures, we would like to extend another big thank you to JJ Hanley for sharing this information with us. Now you can watch the full video from JJ Hanley’s presentation at Center for Independent Futures right here on our website.

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