ABLE ME Launches in Maine

ABLE Act -National Resource Center logoBangor, ME (October 18, 2021):  Bangor Savings Bank introduced its newest product, the first of its kind in the nation, Maine ABLE Benefit Checking. The account was created for people with disabilities to allow greater access to financial products and services, while protecting eligibility for federal and State of Maine means-tested benefits. Historically, individuals receiving benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are limited to $2,000 in resources. ABLE Accounts provide new avenues for financial health, planning, and empowerment for individuals with disabilities and their families.

ABLE Account can change the way individuals with disabilities and their families participate in the community, build financial wellness and plan for the future by empowering them to save and invest for the added expenses that come with having a disability without losing access to federal means-tested benefits. ABLE account holders can use these funds to make purchased of things like assistive technology that are not covered by other funders.

The federal “Achieving a Better Life Experience” Act of 2014 (ABLE Act) created a new option for qualified individuals living with disabilities and their families. Most ABLE programs follow an assets-under-management model. Maine has chosen a different approach and account structure to meet the more immediate needs of participants for whom longer term investment and saving is not a primary goal.

ABLE accounts originate from the federal ABLE Act and are established and managed at the state level. In partnership with the Office of the Maine State Treasurer, which oversees and maintains the program locally, Bangor Savings Bank is proud to serve as the administrator of the ABLE ME program.

ABLE ME, with Bangor Savings Bank’s Maine ABLE Benefit Checking account as the sole deposit instrument, was announced last month by Maine State Treasurer Henry E. M. Beck, Esq., and is the first of its kind in Maine and the nation.

“The State is grateful to partner with Bangor Savings Bank to offer this first-in-the-nation, simple ABLE checking account product,” said Beck. “When we first began developing this program, we listened to Mainers who live with disabilities who told us having access to a respected brick-and-mortar Maine-based financial institution was paramount. I encourage Mainers to take advantage of the protections and dignity an ABLE account can provide.”

“Our partnership with the Office of the State Treasurer is a unique public-private collaboration that allows us to increase access to banking.” said Bob Montgomery-Rice, President and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank. “Creating and offering this program supports the financial independence and well-being of Maine’s residents with disabilities and reflects our ongoing commitment to provide better banking experiences for all community members.”

“Partnering with the State Treasurer’s Office to innovate this first-in-the-nation Bank-administered ABLE Program has been incredibly rewarding. It wouldn’t have come to fruition without the vision and commitment of former State Treasurer Terry Hayes and current State Treasurer Henry Beck, as well as the unshakable support of our President and CEO Bob Montgomery-Rice,” said Joyce Clark Sarnacki, Bangor Savings Bank Foundation Chair and a member of the ABLE ME development team.

The Maine ABLE Benefit Checking can be opened at any Bangor Savings Bank branch and is available to qualifying Maine residents. For more information about ABLE Programs across the country, visit the National Association of State Treasurers.

About Bangor Savings Bank

Bangor Savings Bank, with more than $6 billion in assets, offers retail banking to consumers as well as comprehensive commercial, corporate, payroll administration, merchant services, and small business banking services to businesses. The Bank, founded in 1852, is in its 169th year with more than 60 branches in Maine and New Hampshire and business and/or loan production offices in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Bangor Savings Bank and The Bangor Savings Bank Foundation have invested more than $3.4 million into the community in the form of sponsorships, grants, and partnership initiatives last year. Bangor Savings Bank is an equal opportunity employer and can be found on the Web at www.bangor.com. Member FDIC.

Maine Celebrating National ABLE to Save Month By Announcing Program

From the Office of the State Treasurer

ABLE Act -National Resource Center logoAugusta, ME – August 17, 2021: August marks the nationally celebrated ABLE to Save Month, based on the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act). The Act created a new option for qualified individuals living with disabilities and their families to save for the future, while protecting eligibility for public benefits. Although ABLE accounts come from the federal ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act, they are established and managed on a state level. ABLE Savings Plan programs across the country will highlight the value and importance these plans bring to those living with disabilities this month.

In honor of the month, Maine Treasurer, Henry Beck, announced that Maine’s program, which is expected to launch by year end, will be the first of its kind in the country. ABLE ME is a new program of the State of Maine Office of the State Treasurer, and Bangor Savings Bank has been named the administrator of the program.

Beck said, “Nationally, ABLE accounts have gained traction and the structure of those accounts closely mirrors a 529 college savings account, with invested assets. Through our collaboration with Bangor Savings Bank and community advocates, we concluded that a transactional, FDIC-insured, checking account would best serve the needs of both young and adult Mainers with disabilities, and their families.”

“Creating greater financial empowerment in our communities is central to our You Matter More Promise,” said Bob Montgomery-Rice, President and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank. “We’re honored to step forward in partnership with the State Treasurer’s Office to create this innovative and beneficial program for Maine’s people with disabilities. Collaboration between the public and private sector is an integral part of Maine’s economy, and we are proud to contribute to greater economic mobility for those who qualify for this program.”

Bangor Savings Bank is currently developing the Maine ABLE Benefit Checking SM account. Until account development is complete and available, please direct all questions to The Office of the Maine State Treasurer.

About ABLE

ABLE plans can change the way individuals with disabilities and their families participate in the community, build financial wellness, and plan for the future by empowering them to save for the added expenses that come with having a disability without losing access to federal means-tested benefits.

ABLE accounts foster person-centered independence, build self-reliance, encourage employment, and improve quality of life. Without an ABLE account, individuals currently receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are limited to savings in the amount of $2,000. This creates a real barrier to financial independence and limits a person’s economic mobility.

For more information about ABLE Savings Plans across the country, visit the National Association of State Treasurers.

The Office of the Maine State Treasurer will update its website as plans for ABLE ME rollout get closer. www.maine.gov/treasurer

About the Treasurer’s Office

The Office of the Treasurer of State is established in Article V, Part Third of the Constitution of the State of Maine. The core duties of the Treasurer’s Office are debt management, cash management, trust fund administration and unclaimed property administration. Other major tasks assigned to the Treasurer are directorships on many of Maine’s quasi-governmental debt issuing agencies and distributions under the Municipal Revenue Sharing Program.

About Bangor Savings Bank

Bangor Savings Bank, with more than $6 billion in assets, offers retail banking to consumers as well as comprehensive commercial, corporate, payroll administration, merchant services, and small business banking services to businesses. The Bank, founded in 1852, is in its 169th year with more than 60 branches in Maine and New Hampshire and business and/or loan production offices in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Bangor Savings Bank and The Bangor Savings Bank Foundation have invested more than $3.4 million into the community in the form of sponsorships, grants, and partnership initiatives last year. Bangor Savings Bank is an equal opportunity employer and Member FDIC.

 

Travis Roy Foundation to wind down operation

As reported by MaineBiz

Photos of Travis RoyThe Travis Roy Foundation, a national nonprofit created by the Augusta native and North Yarmouth Academy hockey star who died last fall, will permanently wind down its work early next year.

The foundation will end its fundraising sometime after April 2022 in accordance with Roy’s wishes, according to a news release Friday.

He had requested that the foundation cease operation following his death, which occurred Oct. 29, 2020, after complications from surgery. Roy was 45.

In 1996, Roy launched the foundation, which grew to become the largest spinal cord injury charity program of its kind in the country, the release said. The foundation has raised over $20 million for research and for grants to thousands of individuals and their families dealing with paralysis after a spinal cord injury, and awarded more than $5.6 million in grants toward finding a cure.

Travis Roy Foundation trustees are currently in discussions with other nonprofits to establish programs that will continue Roy’s mission for years to come, according to the release.

Read the complete MaineBiz article

Read the press release from the Travis Roy Foundation

 

FCC Launches Emergency Broadband Benefit Program on May 12

FCC logoThe Emergency Broadband Benefit is a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) program to help families and households struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, virtual classrooms, and more.

The FCC has announced that eligible households can apply for the program starting May 12, 2021 in three ways:

  1. Contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process, or use the FCC’s online tool to find a participating company near you. Participating companies can help you apply through the National Verifier or through their company’s application process.
  2. Go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online and to find participating providers near you.
  3. Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application, and return it along with proof of eligibility to: Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742.

Individuals who use videophones and are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) may call the FCC’s ASL Consumer Support Line at (844) 432-2275 (videophone).

Enrollment for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will end when the fund runs out of money, or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency, whichever is sooner. Therefore, Mainers should also be aware of the FCC’s Lifeline Program, a permanent federal program that offers a monthly benefit of up to $9.25 towards phone or internet services for eligible subscribers (up to $34.25 for those living on Tribal/Native lands). Please use this link for more information about the Lifeline Program…

 

National Paralysis Resource Center Offers Funding Opportunities

Funding Opportunities to Address Social Isolation

Applications due March 16, 2021

ACL’s National Paralysis Resource Center (managed by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation) is announcing new funding opportunities for organizations and agencies that serve people living with any type of paralysis.

Ongoing research on COVID-19 shows that social isolation and loneliness have increased during the pandemic. Previous research found that social isolation is linked to many physical and mental health problems including heart disease, diabetes, heart failure, stroke, dementia, anxiety, depression, and suicide. To address these problems being exacerbated by the pandemic, a new grant opportunity was created.

  • COVID-19: Addressing Social Isolation Quality of Life (QOL) grants fund projects that address social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic with the goal of enhancing connectedness of people living with paralysis and their caregivers to their communities and preventing adverse health outcomes. Grants will be awarded within the range of $25,000 – $50,000.

A second grant opportunity is also available:

  • The Direct Effect Quality of Life (QOL) grants offer up to $25,000 to nonprofit organizations for projects that clearly impact individuals living with paralysis, their families, and caregivers.

Use this link to download or read the Application and Program Guidelines (PDF) or visit the Reeve Foundation website for an overview of the QOL grant program and the QOL grant application timeline and process.

A free Application Technical Assistance Webinar will be held on Tuesday, February 9 at 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm EST. Use this link to register for the technical assistance webinar.

QOL grant applications are available and are to be completed online through the Reeve Foundation online grants portal. The online application submission deadline is Tuesday, March 16, 2021, at 11:59 pm ET.

The Foundation is no longer able to provide individual pre-award assistance either by telephone or email. However, they welcome questions about the application process to QOL@ChristopherReeve.org. All questions submitted via email will be collected, aggregated, and answered in a Questions and Answers document posted on their website. The deadline for emailed questions is Friday, February 12.

Quality of Life (QOL) grants are federally funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living (ACL). Organizations that have previously been awarded a Quality of Life grant in any category may re-apply for funding one year following the close of their grant and notification of grant closure by the Reeve Foundation.

ACL funds the Paralysis Resource Center to provide comprehensive information for people living with spinal cord injury, paralysis and mobility-related disabilities and their support networks. Resources include information and referral by phone and email in multiple languages including Spanish; a peer and family support mentoring program; a military and veterans program; multicultural outreach services; quality of life grants; and a national website.

 

CMS Announces New Federal Funding for 33 States to Support Transitioning Individuals from Nursing Homes to the Community

WASHINGTON – September 23, 2020 – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the availability of up to $165 million in supplemental funding to states currently operating Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration programs. This funding will help state Medicaid programs jump-start efforts to transition individuals with disabilities and older adults from institutions and nursing facilities to home and community-based settings of their choosing.

Today’s action delivers on the Administration’s commitment to transform Medicaid (PDF) by fostering increased state flexibility and innovation and to ensure safety and quality for beneficiaries.

“The tragic devastation wrought by the Coronavirus on nursing home residents exposes America’s over-reliance on institutional long-term care facilities,” said Administrator Seema Verma. “Residential care will always be an essential part of the care continuum, but our goal must always be to give residents options that help keep our loved ones in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.”

“Home and community-based care is not only frequently more cost effective, but is preferred by seniors and adults with disabilities seeking to maintain the dignity of independent living. This new federal investment will help states get our loved ones back home,” she added.

Today’s action is supported by new data that shows the need for this supplemental funding opportunity to accelerate states’ MFP activities.  According to a new report released by CMS today, MFP state grantees transitioned 101,540 Medicaid beneficiaries from institutional care to home-based and community services (HCBS) since the program started in 2007.  However, last year, only 4,173 Medicaid beneficiaries were transitioned under the MFP program – a 46 percent decrease from 2018.

Thirty-three states (including the District of Columbia) that operate MFP-funded transition programs and plan to continue participating in MFP after this fiscal year are eligible to participate: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

Each state is eligible to receive up to $5 million in supplemental funding for planning and capacity building activities to accelerate long-term care system transformation design and implementation, and to expand HCBS capacity, such as:

  • Assessing HCBS system capacity and determining the extent to which additional providers and/or services might be needed;
  • Assessing institutional capacity and determining the extent to which the state could reduce this capacity and transition impacted individuals to more integrated settings;
  • Provider and direct service worker recruitment, education, training, technical assistance, and quality improvement activities, including training people with disabilities to become direct service workers;
    Caregiver training and education;
  • Assessing and implementing changes to reimbursement rates and payment methodologies to expand HCBS provider capacity and/or improve HCBS and/or institutional service quality;
  • Building Medicaid-housing partnerships to facilitate access to affordable and accessible housing for Medicaid beneficiaries with disabilities and older adults; and
  • Diversion strategies to prevent nursing facility admission.

In addition, states could use this funding opportunity to support HCBS planning and capacity building activities in direct response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, such as to plan and implement the use of telehealth for nursing facility transition activities that would normally be conducted in-person or to redesign service delivery models to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection among MFP participants.

Supplemental budget requests under this funding opportunity will be accepted on a rolling basis through June 30, 2021.  CMS will provide all eligible grantee states that currently operate a MFP-funded transition program, with additional information on this funding opportunity.

For more information, please visit Medicaid.gov

 

Maine Trust for People with Disabilities

Maine’s only pooled trust for people with disabilities

The Maine Trust for People with Disabilities - logoThe Maine Trust for People with Disabilities (MTPD) is Maine’s only nonprofit organization that offers parents, relatives and friends a convenient and economical way to establish and fund a special needs trust account for an individual who has a disability and who qualifies for public benefits, such as MaineCare or SSI. In addition, the MTPD offers individuals with disabilities the option to establish and fund their own accounts. The MTPD is a pooled special needs trust established in compliance with federal law.

These funds can be used to pay for such things as:

  • Recreation and Entertainment
  • Training/Education
  • A  car
  • Electronic devices
  • Appliances
  • Medical care and goods not covered by Medicaid
  • Other living expenses not covered by public benefits

The Maine Trust for People with Disabilities is sponsored by a Maine non-profit corporation The Maine Trust for People with Disabilities, Inc. The daily operations of the Trust are performed by a wide range of volunteers, including people who have disabled family members, representatives of social service agencies, and individuals from legal, business, accounting and investment management businesses. Norway Savings Bank serves as Trustee, and Old Port Pension Administrators is the recordkeeper.

For more information and to create a trust, visit the MTPD website… 

Foundation supports robots in Maine schools

Gramtastic Connection logoThe Grahamtastic Foundation, is a Maine non-profit that provides free technology to seriously ill children.

In addition to providing FREE iPads, laptops and internet access, Grahamtastic has a fleet of nine robots it has been lending to schools since 2013.

According to spokesperson, Leslie Morissette, “…currently all nine of our robots are being used but … we are always accepting new applications. If the school is far from Springvale, Maine (when the foundation is located) we ship our robots to the schools.  We shipped one to Fort Kent yesterday.”

For more information

 

Grahamtastic.org
21 Bradeen Street, Suite 107
Springvale, ME 04083

Phone: 207-324-0888 ext. 209
E-mail: grahamtastic@metrocast.net

Robot assists student in need

Double Robotics - DoubleAs reported in the Portland Press Herald and News Center – WCSH-6 – Portland, the Vassalboro Community School in AOS92 has recently purchased a Double Robotics telepresence device to assist on of their students with a chronic illness who is not able to attend school.

The device, called “Double” is a remote student-controlled robotic device that is able to navigate through the school and allow the student to attend classes and interact with students and teachers from home. The device was created by a company called Double Robotics a California-based technology company.  As noted in the Press Herald article:

“Double is an iPad mounted on wheels that Abby (the student) is able to remotely control over Wi-Fi. Think Skype on a Segway.

“‘It acts as your double,’ says Sara Broyles, communications manager Double Robotics Inc., the company that created the ‘telepresence’ robot that Abby uses. ‘It gives you a physical presence where you can’t be in person.'”

The use of robots as assistive technology is growing across the country. We have posted more information about this device and others here on our website. 

Funding for this particular technology was provided by the Perloff Family Fund of the Maine Community Foundation.

Another source of funding is the Grahamtastic Foundation who currently has a fleet of nine robots working to support students in Maine schools.

More information