Savings program for people with disabilities hits $1.9 million in assets
State Treasurer Riley Moore and advocates for people with disabilities on Tuesday celebrated the third anniversary of WVABLE, a Treasurer’s Office savings program which promotes financial independence while preserving important government benefits.
In December 2014, Congress passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience ("ABLE") Act to expand financial savings opportunities to people with disabilities. Prior to the federal ABLE Act, individuals with a disability who had more than $2,000 in savings could lose eligibility for Medicaid coverage and Supplemental Social Security payments.
The federal ABLE Act allowed for the creation of tax-advantaged accounts that are used to pay for qualified disability expenses that help maintain or improve the health, independence and quality of life for the individual with the disability. The West Virginia Legislature passed a state version of the ABLE Act in 2015, and the program launched under the State Treasurer’s Office on February 9, 2018.
“Making people with disabilities spend down their assets accomplishes nothing but to keep them poor and dependent,” Treasurer Moore said. “Programs such as WVABLE allow them to live more meaningful lives while preserving basic benefits, ones they would be hard-pressed to pay for out of pocket, even when allowed to save and work.”
Medical costs for people with disabilities are typically much higher than that of the general population.
Under the WVABLE program, individuals who developed their disability before the age of 26 can open what’s known as a STABLE account, which is similar to a 529 college savings account. Contributions up to $15,000 annually may be made, and for the employed beneficiary an additional $12,760 may be contributed for an annual total of $27,760.
West Virginia residents may set up WVABLE savings accounts through Treasurer Moore’s Office. As of Feb. 7, the program claimed more than $1.9 million in assets under management, spread over 326 accounts. The average account balance checked in at just under $6,000, nearly three times the amount previously allowed under the old federal law.
“We are thrilled that ABLE accounts are available in our state and I am personally excited that Anna, my daughter, now has access to a resource that will enable her to achieve more independence, financial security, personal empowerment and an overall better quality of life,” said Christina Smith of Belleville, W.Va. “I believe the WVABLE program will set her up for every level of success, because I know in my heart she is capable of accomplishing great things in life.”
Susan Given, executive director of Disability Rights of West Virginia, said, “Money can be set aside for emergencies or large purchases when needed. ABLE accounts can be easily set up online in a matter of minutes. If you are a person with a disability or a parent/guardian of a person with a disability, now is the time to see if an ABLE account can work for you.”
WVABLE is administered by the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office through a partnership with the Ohio Treasurer’s Office STABLE program. For more information, or to sign up for an account, logon to WVABLE.com.