If you have a special needs child or even a relative, this is a can’t-miss episode. Lou and Cal Ogburn share the story of their daughter and how she has been able to live a fulfilling and independent life.
It’s thanks to their love and determination to secure her the federal and state benefits she qualified for – not to mention her great attitude and friendly personality.
They’ve also made a plan to pay for her care when they’re gone, which will be especially important as she gets older.
Listen in to find out…
The state and federal programs you might not know about
Details on special needs trusts
A free source of information on special needs benefits
The type of financial planning you must do if you have a special needs child
John Curry: Hey, folks. John Curry here for another episode of The Secure Retirement Podcast. Today, I'm sitting here with Lou and Cal Ogburn and April Schoen. I'm looking forward to today because there is a wealth of information sitting across the table from me regarding special needs planning. But, before we get into that, Lou and Cal, I would like for you to share with our listeners both a little bit of your background. During lunch, I was fascinated by the fact that Cal, you served in three branches of the military, Army, Air Force and in Coast Guard. Will you tell us a little bit about that Cal?
Cal Ogburn: Yes, back in 19 ... in the '50s, I was drafted into the Army. I did my two-year required hitch in the Army. Unfortunately, a lot of my Army duty was working at Air Force bases in air traffic control. So, when I got out of the Army, I then joined the Air Force Reserve, which I was very happy and thought I was going to make my 20 years doing that. I began to hear about the Coast Guard had started an aviation section, and one of those units was in Savannah, very close to my hometown at that time, Waycross.
John Curry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Cal Ogburn: So, I went down there and talked to the recruiter, and he hired me and about five of my other Reserve people to join to Coast Guard as well. So, that's how I ended up in the Coast Guard and I'm very pleased that I did that.
John Curry: I was in the Air Force, so I resent the fact that you left the Air Force to go to the Coast Guard. What's wrong with you?
Cal Ogburn: It was called, I think, commission.
John Curry: I understand that. That's funny, that's funny. Now, while he was doing all of this military stuff, what were you doing, Lou?
Lou Ogburn: Finished college and went to work for what was then Integon, which is a life insurance company. Worked there for several years, or maybe a year or two, moved over to Wachovia, which is now Wells Fargo. And then we moved to Daytona Beach, Florida. So, after that, it was just any job I could find doing anything. Ended up in Waycross, Georgia, and was a social worker. I had a degree in business administration, they didn't ask what the degree was in. They said, “Do you have a degree?” I said, “I do.” And they hired me.
So, it was a great job in a little town where you kind of knew everybody, and you had to make your own fun, and you learned a lot about the people, the culture, and how to help them. But, while we were in Waycross, we also adopted two children and it turns out one of those had special needs. So, about the time that she was needing to be tested and to go into the school system, we moved to Tallahassee, which offered a lot of opportunities for her and I'm happy we made that move.
So, that starts the career with our daughter Ruth. She started out at Gretchen Everhart School, which is a special needs school here, and finished when she was 22. She's now 53 and she worked in the interim for 24 years at one job, and has now left that job because of a health problem. But, is doing volunteer work at one of the nursing homes in Tallahassee, so she's very happy. She likes the gym, she goes to an aerobics pool, and she has a trainer who helps her several times a week. And, she loves dancing, so she's taking a dance class.
She’s very happy, she lives on her own with supports at night.
John Curry: I want to back up for a second, I just learned something new that I did not know, and I've known you for a long time. 25-30 years? I'm not sure how long it is.
Lou Ogburn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
John Curry: I did not know that you worked at Integon. I worked at Integon for 17 months.
Lou Ogburn: Oh really?
John Curry: As an agent, I sure did.
Lou Ogburn: And the head office was then in Winston-Salem?
John Curry: That's correct.
Lou Ogburn: And I worked for the Vice President. I could forge his name and I wrote all of his correspondence. He did not like to do that.
John Curry: When did you work there? What years?
Lou Ogburn: I finished college in '61, so I went to work within two weeks. So, I probably worked there from '61 to '62, maybe. It was probably a year.
John Curry: Mine was a little later, '76 to '77.
Lou Ogburn: Too bad.
John Curry: That's funny.
April Schoen: That's funny.
John Curry: It is. April, if you have questions that pop in mind, jump in, too.
April Schoen: Sure.
John Curry: I want to ask you a quick question before we move on. Would you take a moment and just share with our listeners how you got so passionate about learning everything you could about special needs? Because over the years I've learned so much from you and I'm convinced you know more about this topic than most attorneys who consider themselves special needs attorneys. So, would you just address that, then I'm going to go back to April for a minute?
Lou Ogburn: Sure. When Ruth was about ... She didn't walk, that was the first little clue we had when she was a year old. She didn't walk until she was maybe 18 months, and she didn't talk. So, we had a doctor who lived next door, he was about our age, and I went over there one day and I said to him, “What do you think is wrong with Ruth?” It was sort of a flip-up question and he said, “I think she's retarded.”
Well, when I finished crying-
John Curry: I well remember that.
Lou Ogburn: ... I thought, "That ain't going to do you any good. You might as well try and learn everything you can.” So, at that point my mission became: how do we help her? And Waycross didn't offer too much, but as I said, we had her tested at both the University of Georgia twice. We were in Georgia, we had access to the medical school there, and the first diagnosis said she will never develop at all, so put her in an institution.
April Schoen: About what year is this?
Lou Ogburn: She was about ... I guess it was about 18 months when they told us that. She was born in '65, so this was in '67 sometime.
April Schoen: Yeah.
Lou Ogburn: And so that ... I just didn't accept it. That was just not the answer I wanted. And so, we took her back, and I can't remember ... it was probably about a two or three year period in time, and in addition at that point we'd adopted another child, who was exactly the opposite of Ruth. He was well on his way to being an adult when he was about 2 years old. He could walk at 7 months.
April Schoen: Oh wow.
Lou Ogburn: And he could talk, and he could do anything. He was very well coordinated, and here you had two children 18 months apart in age, and one was more advance than the other, but he was the younger one. So, it was sort of a dilemma. We took her back to University of Georgia and took him with us this time and they said, "Oh no, that first diagnosis was all wrong. There's nothing wrong with her, she's just a little bit slow."
Well, I didn't think that diagnosis was right either. You kind of know when somethings wrong. So, the third evaluation was made here in Tallahassee by a neurologist who's no longer living, and his was the most correct. He said, "I'm suspecting there was brain damage at birth," he said, "probably forceps damage when she was delivered." We had no way to know that, of course. And he said, "And I think there is some paralysis in her throat that keeps her from speaking clearly." He said, "But, my best guess at this point ..." and she was older, "is that she will attain the chronological age of about 13." And he said, "I think she's doing okay."
So, he gave me hope. So, I put her in a regular kindergarten and they took her, but they always knew that one of the teachers had to have her hand when they went on field trips and things like that. And actually, she started in a regular school, but that ... In the first grade, but that didn't last long before they decided to staff her into Gretchen Everhart. So, we essentially got the best of the special needs school. It was new, it had everything. It had the best of the teachers, and they did the best they could with her. She doesn't read, she cannot write, and she cannot tell time. But, she can think. And she can accept several commands at one time, and she had common sense.
So, I don't know. No psychologist or no doctor is ever been able to explain why. It doesn't follow any pattern. She's not downs. When the Mayo clinic, maybe ten years ago, did an MRI on her they said that the brain was normal looking with the exception it was a little bit smaller than perhaps yours or mine, and two little places at the back were a little bit wider than yours and mine would show up on an MRI. But, they said there's just nothing that shows any abnormalities in the brain. So, we don't know the answers to what happened. I even got her reading teacher several ... maybe 15 years ago to work with her again just to make sure we hadn't missed anything, and she said no. She cannot ... do the reading. But, if you gave her a pictorial book that had emblems in it she's used to seeing on television, she could tell you what all of those are. And she can read trucks going down the highway if it's a Walmart truck or if it's a Best Buy truck, or if it's Walgreens. She knows those, but she can't read the words.
So, your guess is good, and I've had a psychologist, which she's been to many psychologists over the years, tell me that if they had to put a label on her they don't know what they'd put. That she doesn't fall into any pattern at all. She has tendencies of autism, but she's too friendly. She's very social. And that is the mark of an autistic child is that they have no social skills at all, and she has a lot of social skills.
John Curry: Yes she does. Every time you see her in public she's just ... people like her and she likes people.
Lou Ogburn: I've been going to the gym here for maybe 4 years. I know maybe 4 people who work there, I mean, I'll say hello, I don't know their names. Ruth's been going for a year, everyone knows her name and she knows their name. So, she just has a different personality, so.
John Curry: Right.
Lou Ogburn: So, does that help answer your question?
April Schoen: Yes!
Lou Ogburn: That's how I got started and that's why I decided I had no choice. We had to have the best for her.
April Schoen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Lou Ogburn: And fortunately, there were a lot of people around me and a lot of good help in Tallahassee. And we were just here at the right time, where the services were available, and we were able to get in on the ground floor.
John Curry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
April Schoen: Do you feel like your experience in social work helped with this ... or transferred?
Lou Ogburn: Well, I had seen all kinds of people, but maybe. I hadn't ever thought about that. Perhaps it did.
Cal Ogburn: Yes.
April Schoen: And knowing that there are services available and you just have to know where-
Lou Ogburn: Maybe that did help, yes.
April Schoen: ... to go and find them.
Cal Ogburn: I agree with that.
John Curry: You spoke up on that, Cal. So, from your perspective, talk about that for a second. From ... Let me make a comment, first of all. I have told you many times that you've been a role model for me in how to deal with tough situations in a family. After our son had the accident, had the head injury, and some brain damage, you became even more important to me from our conversations. Remember those other the past seven years? How ... How would you describe how things were in the Ogburn household as you were dealing with this? It had to be stressful at times.
Lou Ogburn: Well, it's always stressful when you've got somebody who can't cooperate with the rest of the family some of the time. And it's not her fault. Our son ... He made it, sometimes, more difficult because he always was active and could do everything and she could not. But, Cal and I have always been united. That's the good news, is that it never split us apart.
John Curry: Good.
Lou Ogburn: And we worked hard at keeping them ... trying to keep them both happy and occupied.
Cal Ogburn: I'm doing it more formally. Lou and I, not once, but several times, many times, would say, "All right, are we together on this?" Before we would ever walk out of a room or out of our bedroom. We presented a united front for you to see, for the world to see. And I think that's what got us through it.
John Curry: Great.
April Schoen: Yeah.
John Curry: That's for sharing that.
Lou Ogburn: Now, when she finished Everhart ... And Everhart is a very protected society, it's a special school and has special teachers, and you pretty much know your child is going to be safe when they're there. Even though they ride the bus back and forth, these teachers are very careful. All of a sudden she was 22, or going to be 22, and Everhart was going to go away. And I had no clue as to what to do, absolutely no clue. Unfortunately, I started thinking that I was dumber than I thought I was right before she got to be 22. So, I started asking questions and I thought, "What can she possibly do? I can't have her come home. It's not that I don't want her at home, but she's going to be watching television and we can't have that."
So, I just started ... I went to Goodwill to find out what they did, and I went to, I guess, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and talked to them, talked to everybody I could think of. What do you do? And I talked to vocational rehab, and they said, "Well, we can find her a job, something she could do." So, we decided on that route. We decided that she would be at home and she would have a job. Summer started dragging through and vocational rehab and not done anything. I kept calling and they kept giving me an excuse, and finally they said, "Well, the trust is our secretary is out, and that form about Ruth is still sitting on the desk back there. It just needs to be typed and then we can move along." And I said, "I'll tell you what, this is Tuesday, if you don't have it typed by Friday, I'll be there. I'm a very good typist. I will get it typed for you."
Cal Ogburn: This was a shock to me, too.
Lou Ogburn: Parents will do that. But, I could type. And a piece of type paper wasn't going to stand between Ruth and getting a job. So, it worked.
John Curry: Wait a minute, did you go type it or they did?
Lou Ogburn: No, they typed it.
April Schoen: They managed to get it done.
John Curry: Well, let's don't leave people hanging on that one.
Lou Ogburn: And vocational, in all fairness, they probably shouldn't have told me that, but they did make that mistake, and I did have a solution for that one. They found her a job at ... it was at McDonald's. And it was okay, it was a good starting job. McDonald's is kind of run by children, but it was good for Ruth. I can't remember quite what she did, I think she made salads or cleaned the lobby, it may be both. And she had a job coach, and one job coach ... That was such a new field or hiring the handicap, that her first job coach drove from Valdosta over here just to be a job coach in Tallahassee.
April Schoen: Wow.
Lou Ogburn: I think we went through three or four job coaches, and she worked there six years. The only bad part was there was no transportation, so I took her to work and I picked her up four hours later, every day that she went to work. Which is five days a week for those six years, or Cal had to take her, or somebody had to. So, it was very restrictive. You couldn't do anything. Fortunately, I worked at home, my job was an at home job out of our house, and I could do that. But, that also tired. I mean, even I was getting tired. The pay was very low, even though she was loyal, we weren't getting anywhere. She was obviously not going to be a management part of that, so we decided to change jobs.
We left McDonald's and went to a restaurant here that agreed to hire her. Again, we were working with job coaches through vocational rehab, and within the first six months she took a tumble and had broken out her two front teeth and they let her go. They said that she was still in the transition period and that they didn't have to keep her. And so, vocational backed them up and said we couldn't do anything, so we scrambled and found another job. Again, with the help of ... I think her brother, by this time, who was working for one of the Walmart stores in Jacksonville where he then lived. I think he was helpful in this, but we got her a job at the Walmart here, again with a job coach. And through a series of very good fortune she was able to work there 24 years.
John Curry: That's a long time.
April Schoen: Long time.
Lou Ogburn: Long time.
Cal Ogburn: Yep.
Lou Ogburn: And she didn't work full time, but she rode the bus to there, she rode the bus home. We went through probably 15 managers, we had some good ones, we had some great ones, we had a couple just really bad managers, but she made it through all of them.
John Curry: Talk a little bit about the transition as she's aging. I remember us talking about special needs trust, the legal issues.
Lou Ogburn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
John Curry: Talk a little bit about where this journey took you in learning about those type things, because it's not just about the care, it's about providing for her in the event that one of you or both of you should die. Talk about some of the things that you started learning because I just think it's fascinating, and other people would learn from this.
Lou Ogburn: Okay. When we first realized that we would need to have some special money left for Ruth to take care of her for the rest of her life, I began to listen to people, talk to people, read about things, and realize there was something called a special needs trust. Set up under the federal tax code, I think, it's totally legal, it's administered by Social Security and it may be under their laws, I believe. And you can save money for a person who qualifies, who is considered intellectually or physically disabled, if they become disable before they're 26 years old, and you can save it in a special needs trust for anything but housing or food. It can be used for anything but housing or food, and the reason it can't be used for that is by this time the person who's disabled, is probably going to be getting SSI, which is Social Security ... Or SSDI, disability, or SSI ... There's two or three kinds of help that Social Security ... Depending on whether their parents worked, and they can get it off the parents work experience when they reach the age, I believe, of 22.
So, we didn't apply for it when she was 22, I think we waited several years but then we did apply and she began to get a small check every month that she could use for whatever she needed to use it for. And then, when she went to work on her own, Social Security actually called me one day out of the blue and they said, "We are working on Ruth getting her own Social Security check based off her own work experience." So, I was amazed. That part I didn't know about. But, it turns out that because she had worked since she was 22 or 23, I believe, that she was eligible to draw a Social Security check as long as her work money didn't exceed a certain amount, and they realized she was disabled but she was working.
So, she got what was called SSDI, and it was around 800 dollars. So, that is what supposedly would pay for her rent and her food, and then special needs could pick up everything but rent and food.
April Schoen: Right, so if you have this special needs trust then the money that's inside the trust does not affect her federal benefits, then correct?
Lou Ogburn: That is correct, didn't affect the SSDI, that's the way it was set up. And so, that was helpful. At that point something came along called the Med Waiver Program, here we are again right at the right time in the right place in Tallahassee ... Or, Florida decided to use this program. Med Waiver stands for you're waiving their Medicaid benefits to let them live in the community, because a person who is very disabled ... I know the late state laws of Florida, anyway, can be put in an institution, and the state of Florida with pay for that. And it's very expensive, back then it was probably 90 thousand dollars a year, now it's probably 250 thousand dollars a year to institutionalize somebody. But, it's how the state handles the people who are disabled who can't take care of themselves.
Then the government said, "No, there's probably a better way. What if we waive that right? What if we have them wave that right and we give them money to live in the community? We help them live through a program called Medical Waiver, called Med Waiver for short? And we will pay for a supported living counselor, a supported living coach, maybe an employment counselor, and let them go live in the least restricting environment they can find and we will support them? That's how we keep them out of an institution, it's by supporting them this way."
Now, your SSDI will pay for your rent and your food and then if they're working they can pay the rest up. If they have a special needs trust, if their parents have been able to set that up or perhaps they have a special needs trust because they've been in an accident, and that's where they put the money. Then, you can have money from that to pay for your cable and maybe a television set, a nice little sofa or chair or something. I mean, or your bed, your furniture, whatever. That's what special needs trust can pay for. So, that is what I began to work at learning and Ruth was able to go under the Med Waiver program, so she got a roommate and an apartment and it was good. She lived away from us, but with supports.
John Curry: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, she had some more freedom and some independence?
Lou Ogburn: She had freedom, independence, she was working, she rode the bus dollar ride back and forth to work. They picked her up at the door, they brought her home, and she had a roommate, and she had a very nice apartment. And that lasted maybe ten years, and the roommates' family was not terribly happy ... I mean, it didn't have anything to do with Ruth, they just moved so they moved her, too. And Ruth had decided at that time she didn't want a roommate, she wanted to live alone, which made it a little bit more difficult, but she had a job at Walmart so she could pay her rent and she could buy her food. And with her SSDI she could pay the rest of it, so without our help at all she was living on her own.
John Curry: That's great. That's great. What advice would you offer people who find themselves in a situation similar? They have a young child, and they know it's going to be tough going forward, but they're not sure what to do?
Lou Ogburn: Well, there are a lot of organizations that can help them, and depending on the child's disability. I would say you start with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, they have a wealth of knowledge there, it's a state agency you just have to make an appointment. And you have to make sure your child is tested and qualifies for their services, that can be done as early as age three. Unfortunately, in Florida, the waiting list for full services through the agency is now at 20 thousand people.
John Curry: That's the waiting list?
Lou Ogburn: That's the waiting list.
John Curry: Wow.
April Schoen: Wow.
John Curry: That's terrible.
Lou Ogburn: When Ruth got in they were begging for people to get in. That was 30 years ago, so you can see what's happened. So many people have moved to Florida, and there are a lot of disabled people who qualify for this program. So, we're very fortunate. Now, they have some partial ... ways to help, but not like Ruth. She has the full array of services and that's very unusual. But, in her age group, all of those in that age group, because they were right in on the ground floor of the Med Waiver program, did get the services they needed. In fact, I remember the first person saying, "Are you sure that's all the services you want?"
Well, today you wouldn't do that because there are so many people needing and so little money to go around. But, last year ... The last about four or five years they've taken two or three thousand people off the wait list each year. The problem with doing that ... it started during the Bush administration, is he dumped in a bunch of money but the next year when they said, "Governor, how much money for APD? Agency for Persons with Disabilities?" He said, "We gave them money last year."
That doesn't work. Once you put them on the rolls it's a reoccurring cost, year after year, after year. You have to factor that in. So, when they take someone off the wait list, it's just not for a year, it's for a lifetime.
April Schoen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Lou Ogburn: And Florida does not have the tax base or the money to do that, but we're trying. Every year we lobby to get some people off the wait list. Now, I tell you 20 thousand, that's 20 thousand people who are between the ages of 3 and however old they are. When they're in the public school system, before they age out at 22, that's probably the bottom of the list. In other words, they know they're having some care in the school system, so there's not the push to put them on the Med Waiver. It's when they reach age 22 and above that they really need to get on there.
And some parents are having a really hard time. They're aging out, and they're aging, and they can no longer care for their children. And they are one of the first groups. There's a priority list that the legislature has set and I think it's those people who are institutionalized coming out of institutions like Chattahoochee. They will get priority, or people who have absolutely no place to go. The parents have died, they're homeless.
April Schoen: Right.
Lou Ogburn: Those two categories get the top priority. And I think there's a third category, I'm not sure what that is, but the fourth category is with parents over 70 years of age. So, when they take them, they try to take into that fourth.
John Curry: Which makes sense.
Lou Ogburn: It does make sense.
John Curry: Because you've got to take care of them.
Lou Ogburn: That's the right thing to do, is to take care of them.
John Curry: Yes.
April Schoen: Right.
John Curry: Let's talk a little bit about the ... We've talked about the legal side, understanding what's available, understanding the rules and regulations, let's talk about the financial planning slash retirement planning side. Because for some people, if they don't ... most people have a hard enough time saving money when things are perfect, much less when they have a special needs situation like you're describing today. Talk about that. Along the way how did you deal with that? How did you come up with a plan to do all of the things that you have done, the two of you? To take care of her, but yet you still have your own security and freedom and you're not hurting financially because of taking care of her.
So, walk us through that, what should people do?
Lou Ogburn: Well, because she had been under the program, the Med Waiver, and she has pretty much paid her own way up until now. Our fear is that as she gets older there will be more required of her care. In other words, she may have to go into an assisted living or something, and Med Waiver does not cover that. So, that would be a private pay type thing. I'm working on a state-wide committee right now to see what options are available for the aging ED population. Right now the options are to put them in what's called an ICF, which is money that comes out of general revenue. ICF is an intermediate care facility, and it's usually reserved for those people who are the most profoundly disabled. They're non-verbal, wheelchair, tube fed sometimes. Really cannot care for themselves, can't do any things.
And then the step down from that would be a group home, usually about six people in a facility with round the clock care, but there's always an awake person, there's no one that sleeps in the house, there's three shifts a day of eight hours. Or sometimes the shifts differ, but there's always an awake person in the house who takes care of six people.
And then, from there it's the independent living like Ruth does in an apartment with a caregiver who comes in at night and is with her in case of an emergency, but during the day she depends on me. And she can, hopefully, take care of herself most of the time.
And so those are your options right now. But, there are people looking everywhere to try to come up with more options.
John Curry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Lou Ogburn: There's a project underway now to be looked at, and it's well underway, called Independence Landing, which is sort of an assisted living concept, I believe. Maybe more independent than assisted, maybe it's an independent living type facility where there will not be an assistant, and I don't know about the food, how the food is going to be done. But, this is going to be built in Tallahassee, there's a woman, Allison Tant, who's been instrumental in getting this done. And what we need are some options for the aging ED population. When they're younger they're more independent, as they age they become less independent.
April Schoen: And Independence Landing, is that just going to be for persons with disabilities? Right, okay.
Lou Ogburn: It's my understanding, I don't know a lot about it.
April Schoen: Okay.
John Curry: That's going to be an actual facility built here in Tallahassee?
Lou Ogburn: I think so, yes.
John Curry: Nice.
Lou Ogburn: I'll let you know more as I know more.
John Curry: I know you will because I learn so much every time we talk about this.
Lou Ogburn: And before we move on, you asked about financial. And what you have to do, John, is just make yourself. You buy a life insurance policy, or you have to save a certain amount. And if you set up a special needs trust then you just save to that trust for your child. It's just a matter of saving, you have to be disciplined in order to save, just like you do for retirement. That's just a part of the retirement.
About four or five years ago the state legislature ... Well, fortunately, there was a woman who was a housewife in Washington who had two children, and she said to her friend one day at the kitchen table, "I can save for one of my children who's totally normal. And the disabled one, I can't save for that one without ruining his benefits." And it just made her mad, so she went to the IRS to chat with them, and none of this was as simple as I'm making it, but they changed the IRS, the federal regulations, to say that you can save for a disabled child. If that child has become disabled before they're 26 and meets the criteria that APD, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, requires to be one of their clients.
So, then ABLE came along and Florida was the second or third state to adopt this program, that you can save up to 100 thousand dollars. It is tax free, and it can be used for almost anything including rent and food.
John Curry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Lou Ogburn: Bunch of regulations now because it is a trust fund. Up until just a few weeks ago it was invadable by Medicaid upon the persons' death. That has changed. Medicaid can now no longer invade this, it's always that persons, and it can be left in their will for a beneficiary.
John Curry: That's news for me.
Lou Ogburn: That's new, that's new.
John Curry: So, that's just happened?
Lou Ogburn: I just heard that yesterday. Now, I have not verified, and I haven't read the law, but this is Florida law.
John Curry: I knew it was being worked on, I didn't know that it passed.
Lou Ogburn: They got a one year reprieve and then this year the law passed.
John Curry: Okay. Wow, a lot of stuff here.
April Schoen: Yes.
John Curry: Any other questions pop up in your head as we're winding down here?
April Schoen: No. I mean, I was kind of glad that we covered the able accounts.
John Curry: Me too. Let's talk a little bit more about that. You're very active in educating people about these topics, so talk a little bit about what's out there if somebody who's listening what's to get involved. Tell them how they can get involved.
Lou Ogburn: Okay, I chair the family care counsel, which is the bridge between the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and those persons or their families that have the disabilities. And we are charged by the Governor, and each of my council members were appointed by the Governor, to be the educational tool that gives the people they education they need to know where to get these resources. We meet once a month, it's an open meeting, it's always published. I mean, if you want to come you just have to ask and you certainly can come. Nothing closed about it.
We run workshops, we've done workshops on special needs trust, on guardianship issues, on diet, and on the able trust. If you need a workshop we'd be happy to try to put one together for you. We always have the director of the regional ... Regional director for area two, which we are, of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities at our meetings. She's there, she can answer questions. And it's a good organization. We're all trained to try to find your answers, we may not be able to answer them as you ask them, but we know where to get the answers for you.
John Curry: Yes you do.
April Schoen: How do they get more information about the family care council, is there a website?
Lou Ogburn: There is a website, yes.
April Schoen: Okay.
Lou Ogburn: Family care council, go to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and it's on that website. Or, you can just put in family care council
April Schoen: Perfect. Good.
John Curry: You know, we had a small part to play in doing a seminar here in our training center. We should do that again because that is something where we can get more information out there and help you with that.
Lou Ogburn: Great.
April Schoen: Mm-hmm (affirmative). We should.
John Curry: We should do that again.
Lou Ogburn: I think that people will do what they need to do if they know about it.
John Curry: Correct.
Lou Ogburn: They want help, and people were afraid of ABLE at first. ABLE stands for achieving a better lifestyle, I believe is what that stands for. People are afraid. They don't want to put their money somewhere that the state can take it.
John Curry: Right.
Lou Ogburn: Because they do an invade trust and they can invade a special needs trust too, if it's a certain kind of special needs trust I think. But, because of this law, I don't believe you have to be afraid of that anymore. I think that they could put ... A woman yesterday at my meeting said, "I only put two thousand in my daughters because I was afraid she would lose it, we would lose it, if something happened to her." And now she said she would want to put more.
John Curry: That's good.
Lou Ogburn: 100 thousand dollars will go a long way if you have other sources of income toward paying rent for someone.
John Curry: Yes. Do you think a day will come where that increases the cap more than 100 thousand? Surely you will with cost of living and expenses?
Lou Ogburn: Probably. You never know what they are going to do. You can do it now, it's just that every increase you have in that you do lose some of your other benefits.
John Curry: Right, right. Well, I've been looking forward to this. I thank you for taking the time to share with us, and our listeners because there're people out there who will benefit tremendously knowing ... Just hearing your words of encouragement, number one, but also knowing where to go. And what I've always been impressed with is you learn but then you go teach. You don't just keep the information to yourself, you help a lot of other people. You've probably indirectly helped tens of thousands of people because of your dedication to this.
Lou Ogburn: Well, thank you. That was very kind. And that's kind of what people are here to ... excuse me, to help other people. So, I'm happy to do it and thank you for talking to me today.
John Curry: You're very welcome. You just reminded me of something I'm reading in a book, it's called The Art of Aging, and in chapter three the author talks about Dr. Michael Debakey, who did the first heart transplant, successful one. And it came down at age 96 they were asking him questions like, "What is it that's made you different in your career?" And his wife stepped up and said, "I can answer that, it's one word, it's love. He loves his patients and his patients love him." And I thought about that and over my career, once I got to the point where it wasn't just about work and making money, it was that, "Okay, you're like a shepherd protecting your flock, and you can learn but you have an obligation that once you learn you teach others," that I really understood that.
And that book reminded me of that in the sense that you love what you do, you've got a big heart, and you're out there helping a lot of people. Both of you are.
Lou Ogburn: Well, thank you.
John Curry: Thank you for being with us today.
Folks, I hope you've enjoyed this. Any questions about special needs or anything let us know and we'll guide you as best we can, too. Thank you very much.
April Schoen: Thank you!
Voice Over: If you would like to know more about John Curry Services you can request a complementary information package by visiting JohnHCurry.com/podcast. Again, that is JohnHCurry.com/podcast, or you can call his office at 850-562-300. Again, that is 850-562-3000. John H Curry, Charted Life Underwriter, Charter Financial Consultant, accredited estate planner, Masters in Science and Financial services, certified in long-term care, registered representative and financial advisor of Park Avenue Securities LLC. Securities products and services and advisory services are offered through Park Avenue Securities, a registered broker dealer and investment advisor. Financial representative of the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, New York.
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