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Planning ahead brings parents “peace of mind”

Emily and Josh Carroll know firsthand how vigilant parents must be to secure the best future possible for their children. Their youngest child, Asher Reed,  was born with a chromosome deletion causing multiple medical and developmental issues, including hearing loss and autism. Asher attends LOGAN’s Sonya Ansari Autism Learning Center at Granger, where he has surpassed every goal set for him so far.

“He is working hard day after day towards the best life possible for himself; you better bet I plan to also do the same for him,” Emily said.

Emily reviewed the INvestABLE Indiana Plan to see if it might be a good fit for her family. She shared her viewpoint at the ABLE launch event at LOGAN Center August 22. We’re sharing her remarks here.

A mother’s quest for peace of mind

by Emily Carroll

Peace of mind.  Something every parent longs for, but never completely achieves. Peace of mind that your child will always be safe, always be secure, always be happy and able to thrive. The day I became a mother, my mind began filling with what seemed like millions of “what-ifs,” and there was the stark opposite of peace in my mind. The day I found out I was the parent of a special needs son, peace of mind seemed to be an impossibility as the “what-ifs” flooded me.

What if he will never walk or talk?
What if I can’t afford the care and services he needs?
What if he can’t live independently as an adult?
What if he will never be able to attend college?

I can tell you all one thing right now. That miracle of boy that I am blessed to call my son has broken barrier after barrier thus far.  He is walking (actually, he is running), speaking through a communication device and using some sign language, and surpassing about every goal his center has set for him thus far.  He is working hard day after day towards the best life possible for himself; you better bet I plan to also do the same for him.

One aspect of planning for the best life for Asher is finances. Doctor’s appointments and medical tests are not cheap, orthotics are not cheap, nor are eyewear, enteral formula, feeding tube supplies, diapers, augmented communication devices, or specialty education. Thankfully there are programs like Medicaid and Social Security.

I put my professional life on hold, as I personally had no other choice than to stay home and give Asher the time, attention, and care he needed to grow and develop.  Choosing to stay home also meant choosing to live on less income.  Medicaid and Social Security have been blessings thus far.  I will forever be grateful for these programs, as they have given my son many things he has needed to develop as much as he has.

As much as Medicaid and Social Security have done, I know these programs will not always cover everything.  Peace of mind means knowing Asher will have funds at his disposal for the rest of his life.  It is hard to look so far into the future with Asher being only 3-years-old, but it is

important to begin saving for his future now to have the money he will need for adulthood. INvestABLE Indiana will help families like ours do just that, while preserving the financial assistance we need in the here and now. For my husband and me, saving for Asher’s future could be hard as a big “nest egg” being set aside would affect his eligibility for Medicaid funds and Supplemental Social Security Income. Medicaid and Social Security are needed now, and a savings fund will be needed in the future. INvestABLE allows us to have both.

Our family can also appreciate a savings program like INvestABLE, as some of Asher’s grandparents wish to help our children pay for future events. Whereas grandparents may contribute to a College Choice 529A plan for our other children, it may be more applicable for them to contribute to an INvestABLE plan for Asher. I am grateful for a program like INvestABLE which would allow extended family to contribute financially to his future without, as said before, affecting the Medicaid and Social Security benefits he receives now.

Having earnings in an INvestABLE account be tax-deferred and tax-free are obvious benefits as well.  How wonderful that our investments could grow at a higher effective rate and be withdrawn for his disability needs eventually without tax consequences.

Being the parent of a special needs child was not something I planned, nor is it anything I would trade for the world.  However, planning for the future for Asher is different than that of our three daughters.  Asher may not be able to go to college, hold a full-time job, or live independently (though he has been an expectation exceeder thus far).  If he is not able to earn his own income, knowing he has funds set aside through INvestABLE would be extremely reassuring to my husband and me.

Having peace of mind?  I don’t think I will ever completely be there.  I will always wonder if I’m making the right decisions for Asher.  However, I do believe that starting an INvestABLE account can give some peace about his financial future.

Snapshots from the ABLE Launch event at LOGAN

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Amy Corbin