Making a Difference | Our Time With Jack

Making a Difference | Our Time With Jack

One of the core missions of Oak Wealth Advisors is to improve the lives of families with special needs members. That mission extends well beyond providing fiduciary financial services to our clients. It also includes giving national and local presentations to members of non-profit organizations, educating other financial advisors, and creating opportunities for individuals with special needs. In the spring of 2018, Jack Croley joined Oak Wealth Advisors as an intern. We met Jack through our relationship with the New Trier High School Transition Program. At our introductory meeting with Jack, which was structured as a hands-on interview, we quickly identified some of his strengths. He is d ...

Mental Health Challenges <br>Should Not Define An Individual’s Life

Mental Health Challenges
Should Not Define An Individual’s Life

Having a mental illness presents challenges in individuals’ lives, but it should not define their lives. The same could be said for other disabilities, yet mental illnesses have such a stigma around them. This stigma causes individuals to be fearful about opening up about their mental illness. This fear can cause the mental illness to define their lives. I remember vividly the first time I talked about my mental illness with people other than my family and my psychiatrist. The opportunity arose in my college financial counseling class. We were to present three items that held significant meaning to us to the class. At first, I was scared to death about sharing anything meaningful to the c ...

ABLE Accounts – Even Better in 2018

ABLE Accounts – Even Better in 2018

 As we start 2018, there are now 31 states offering ABLE accounts and 23 of them are accessible to residents of all states. While ABLE accounts have retained all of their initial benefits, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act added some additional features to the plans. The first enhancement is an increase in the amount of basic contributions that can be made.  In 2018, the amount that can be contributed to an individual’s ABLE account rises from $14,000 in 2017 to $15,000. A more significant addition to the ABLE program is the ability for an individual with an ABLE account who is working to deposit their earnings, up to the Federal Poverty Level which is currently $12,060, if they are not parti ...

Supreme Court Clarifies Free Appropriate Public Education

Supreme Court Clarifies Free Appropriate Public Education

 On Wednesday, March 22, 2017, the special needs community was able to breathe a collective sigh of relief.  The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision that upholds and clarifies the right to free appropriate public education (F.A.P.E.) for all citizens.  The challenge came from a family that had been told by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado that their school district need only meet a “merely more than de minimus” test in order to have met the F.A.P.E. standard.  The U.S. Supreme Court clarified that the standard is more than what the Tenth Circuit approved. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the F.A.P.E. standard is a fact-intensive exercise that is spe ...

ABLE ACT UPDATE 2017

ABLE ACT UPDATE 2017

 Over two years after the ABLE Act was passed, fewer than half of the fifty states are offering ABLE accounts. The good news is that the number is growing on a monthly basis. In January, a consortium of fourteen states has begun launching their plans. Among these states is Illinois. Please see the state graphic below for a view of the states that have open plans as of January 30, 2017. In the future, you can visit www.ablenrc.org to view an updated listing of states that have plans available. This website also offers a simple comparison tool that allows families to compare features of the various state plans. Thus far, we favor the TN plan which is available to non-residents. It has among ...

2016 The Case For Inclusion Summary

2016 The Case For Inclusion Summary

 The following summary comes from United Cerebral Palsy and their annual study of the special needs programs and resources available across the country.  For more information and access to the entire study, visit http://cfi.ucp.org. The Case For Inclusion 2016 report is the broadest and most interesting national study of special needs services we have found. They have been publishing similar reports annually since 2006 and have implemented more thorough measures since 2014. The major areas of evaluation used to calculate the rankings include promoting independence, tracking community involvement and safety, keeping families together, promoting productivity, and reaching those in need of s ...

Back To School – For How Long?

Back To School – For How Long?

In the special needs community, the end of supports through the school district can be a frightening time for families. There is no consistent age at which services end among the various states. Oak Wealth Advisors has produced a first-of-its-kind chart that illustrates these ages. We hope that families and their advisors will benefit from the information. We wish everyone much success as the 2016-2017 school year begins. ...

Recommendations For More Successful I.E.P. Meetings

Recommendations For More Successful I.E.P. Meetings

 Our recommendations for having successful Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings:   Be Proactive.  Your role is equally important as the education professionals’.  You are an expert about your child.  You should advocate for the support your child needs. Prepare well in advance of the meeting. Prior to the I.E.P., send a letter including all the topics you want addressed in the meeting to the I.E.P. team. Follow up with a call to the case manager to ensure your issues will be on the agenda. Request documents to review prior to the meeting. Ask for all reports, evaluations, and proposed goals and objectives in writing. Parents need time to digest the informatio ...

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