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home : columnists : columnists September 20, 2017


8/14/2017
ABLE accounts help Hoosiers with disabilities

By Kathy Kreag Richardson
Indiana State Representative, District 29


Many Hoosiers are living with a disability, and among the obstacles they face is an increased strain on their finances. Whether paying for visits to the doctor's office, medications or specialized equipment, those living with a disability can encounter costly hurdles. To help individuals with disabilities and their families, Indiana now offers ABLE accounts, which are tax-exempt savings accounts that can be used for maintaining health, independence and quality of life.

The ABLE program, which stands for "Achieving a Better Life Experience," provides a pathway to a better economic future for those with disabilities. The Indiana General Assembly established the ABLE Act in 2016, and for the last year, the state worked to implement INvestABLE. Many other states have or are currently working to implement the program.

The key benefit is that eligible individuals and their families can open a savings account without affecting their eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid and other public benefits. These benefits require a means or resource test where individuals cannot report more than $2,000 in cash savings, retirement funds and other items of significant value. ABLE accounts supplement, but do not supplant, benefits provided through private insurance, Medicaid, Social Security, the beneficiary's employment or other sources. This means up to $14,000 can be saved in an account each year, with the maximum account balance set at $450,000. Those receiving Social Security can saving up to $100,000 without risking their monthly benefits.

With these plans, family members, friends and others can also contribute funds to the account. In addition to being tax exempt, savings from these accounts can be used to pay for certain living expenses related to education, transportation, housing, medical needs and more. Account holders can also create long-term savings as they build their assets and set aside funds for the future. Participants can chose from a range of investment options, from more aggressive plans that seek higher returns to more conservative options for financial preservation.

As many as 100,000 Hoosiers could be eligible for the program. To qualify, individuals must have a significant disability before turning 26 years of age. This doesn't mean that individuals must be under the age of 26, rather, the onset of the disability had to occur before the individual's 26th birthday. Those meeting this criteria also must receive Social Security benefits, or meet Social Security's definition and criteria while also providing a letter of certification from a licensed physician. For more information about INvestABLE Indiana, please visit in.savewithable.com. The ABLE National Resource Center also provides a lot of helpful information at www.ablenrc.org or by calling 202-296-2040.

This is especially good news for parents and family members of those with disabilities who are looking ahead and planning for the care their loved ones. By opening and contributing to ABLE accounts, Hoosiers with disabilities can better manage paying for their costly medical expenses, become more financially independent, and save for their futures.

Kathy Kreag Richardson is a Republican State Representative from District 29, which includes Noblesville, and has served in the legislature since 1992. She also is the elections administrator for Hamilton County. You may contact her at h29@in.gov.





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