By Abrahm Hurt
INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers with disabilities now can save money without risking the loss of their state and federal benefits.
The INvestABLE Indiana savings plan offers seven investment plans that will allow disabled individuals and their family members to contribute funds to a tax-free ABLE account.
Carole Guess, who has a son with Down syndrome, speaks during the launch of INvestABLE Indiana. She said an ABLE account will allow her to provide her son with supplemental educational tools such as tutoring and assistive technology. Photo by Abrahm Hurt, TheStatehouseFile.com
“Although special needs trusts were already available, they did not offer the flexibility that an ABLE account could,” said Carole Guess, who is the mother of a son with Down syndrome. “Bringing this opportunity to Indiana will allow Hoosier families like ours to have the best of both worlds.”
While she already has a special needs trust for her son Evan in case of her death, she plans to use an ABLE account to ensure Evan has savings without affecting his eligibility for public assistance.
In 2014, the national Achieving a Better Life Experience Act was signed by President Barack Obama into federal law. The national legislation then left it up to states to introduce their own versions of the ABLE accounts.
“Sen. [Luke] Kenley introduced Senate Bill 11 in the General Assembly on Jan. 5, 2016 and it was unanimously passed through every committee — both sides of the legislature — everyone was fully supportive of this wonderful program, and we couldn’t appreciate more what they all did to make ABLE a reality for our state,” State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell said at the Statehouse durin an announcement of the program’s launch Thursday.
The bill was signed into law by former Gov. Mike Pence.
State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell speaks during the launch of INvestAble Indiana. ABLE accounts allow Hoosiers with disabilities to save money without jeopardizing heir state and federal benefits. Photo by Abrahm Hurt, TheStatehouseFile.com
The program allows up to $14,000 a year to be saved in an account with a total savings cap of $100,000 without impacting Social Security benefits. Contributions are made with post-tax dollars.
Money can be withdrawn and spent on qualified expenses such as education, transportation, employment training, housing and medical purposes. Guess said an ABLE account will allow her to provide Evan with educational tools and important life lessons.
“We also plan to use that account to teach Evan the value of savings and the importance of monitoring his income to expense ratio because at the moment — like most teens — Evan thinks his mom’s bank account is bottomless,” she said.
Mitchell said that she was excited to see something her office has been working on since 2014 become a reality.
“It has truly been my honor to have been part of setting up this life changing program for so many Hoosiers around the state,” she said.
Abrahm Hurt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.