It takes each of us to make a difference for all of us! Just Energy is very proud to take this opportunity to acknowledge Kandi Terry, Manager, Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations (East Region) for the work she’s done personally to improve the livelihood of people with disabilities in her home state of New York.
As a mother of a son with special needs, making his world a better place is a personal priority for Kandi. In addition to an annual college award bestowed by her family to graduating seniors entering a related field of special education, Kandi has sat on the Board of her local Down Syndrome organization, has spoken at events, and volunteers on behalf of the National Down Syndrome Society to advance government priorities in the NYS Legislature.
In 2014, Kandi was instrumental in the final passage and ultimate enactment of the ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act. ABLE made way for the introduction of 529 Able (or 529A accounts), which allows families of children with disabilities to open tax-free savings accounts to save for their child’s future (in a similar manner as those who save for college educations through regular 529 accounts), without fearing the loss of government benefits when the child reaches adulthood. All persons/families with a disability under the age of 26 can open an ABLE account.
This is such an important achievement because prior to the 2014 ABLE legislation, persons with disabilities could not exceed more than $2000.00 in savings or assets as adults (aged 18) and still qualify for government benefits. Today, 529A funds can be used for purposes that are critical to securing quality of life, such as education, healthcare, employment training and community-based support. 529A enables people with disabilities and their families to save for the future without running afoul of limits on the funds they can accumulate.
The ABLE Act had established a state-wide Council to create, administer, promote and monitor the creation and continued development of ABLE Act accounts. Congratulations to Kandi who recently received official notice from the NY State Senate Majority Leader of her appointment to the NY Able Account Advisory Council.
Kandi’s next goal is to create an inclusive college-level program at her local community college. Discussions are already underway. She expects to have this accomplished within the next two years with the ultimate objective to ensure that her son, and all those (including the moms and dads who are blessed with kids with specials needs) who dream of going to college, have the support they need to realize their full potential.
As Kandi says, “one person can make a difference”.