Supreme Court Clarifies Free Appropriate Public Education

Supreme Court Clarifies Free Appropriate Public Education

 On Wednesday, March 22, 2107, 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 ...

ABLE Accounts—Now they exist!

ABLE Accounts—Now they exist!

As of June 1, 2016, Ohio is accepting applications for 529 ABLE Accounts.  As we had anticipated, they are the first state to offer the plans.  While being first is certainly an advantage for Ohio, it does not mean that their plan will be optimal for all individuals.  To their credit, Ohio has chosen to use low-cost Vanguard mutual funds as the investment options for their plan.  They have also simplified the investment selection process by only offering five choices. While residents of any state may opt to use the Ohio “STABLE” Account as their 529 ABLE Account, there will soon be other state options.  In reviewing the details of the Ohio plan, the fees charged for in-state resid ...

Before Signing, Talk to your Special Needs Advisor

Before Signing, Talk to your Special Needs Advisor

Before Signing Anything on Behalf of Someone Else, Talk to Your Special Needs Advisor.  Individuals lack the ability to sign documents for various reasons.  In some cases, a person has suffered from a disability since birth and has never had the mental capacity to make decisions independently.  In other cases, an injury or medical condition could render a healthy person temporarily unable to sign.  In many of these cases, especially those involving mental illness, there may be times when someone is capable of signing on one day and incapable of signing the next day.  One thing all of these various scenarios have in common is that a friend or relative should never sign anything for a pe ...

THE ABLE ACT – One Year Later

THE ABLE ACT – One Year Later

A year after Congress authorized ABLE Accounts as tax-free savings accounts for individuals with special needs, the Internal Revenue Service has still not completed the regulations on how the accounts should be implemented and managed.  Although the final regulations have not been released, we have learned some details which suggest the new accounts may be easier to utilize than had been thought previously. The new guidelines include: An individual applying for an account will not have to submit physician documentation regarding their disability. However, the individual will be required to certify that they have the documentation in their records and can make it available to the ABLE ...

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