They are ABLE
October 2, 2023
How important is stability, peace of mind or independence to you?
These qualities are always top of mind for individuals living with disabilities and their families. They know that financial security is an important step toward achieving an overall sense of well-being. They certainly never want to feel that special needs could keep them from saving for today or the future, and now they won’t have to.
Congress passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act in 2014, creating a savings and investment vehicle designed specifically for people living with disabilities. Today, individuals with disabilities can access these 529-A accounts in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. As of June 30, 2023, there are 151,164 accounts with more than $1.5 billion in assets under management.
As South Carolina’s Treasurer, I am proud to serve as administrator of the Palmetto ABLE Savings Program. Through Palmetto ABLE®, South Carolinians with disabilities are able to save for their everyday needs and invest in a tax-free account without worrying that they could lose their state or federal benefits.
Lisa Woods serves as the South Carolina Department of Special Needs and Disabilities Medicaid Coordinator. She calls Palmetto ABLE a “game changer” because she’s seen its advantages firsthand.
Before Palmetto ABLE, in order to maintain eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid benefits, Lisa’s clients had to spend down their assets instead of saving for future needs. When my office introduced the Palmetto ABLE program in 2017, people living with disabilities finally had the opportunity to save without compromising these federal programs.
Lisa feels the STABLE Visa card is a highlight of the program because it gives users control and self-reliance. They can easily load the Visa card with as little or as much as they need, up to $20,000.
In her position as Medicaid coordinator, Lisa can see that the Palmetto ABLE program promotes well-being and self-sufficiency as it helps achieve financial stability. We’re very proud she calls working with Palmetto ABLE “an honor and a privilege.”
“A no brainer”
Donald Bailey and his wife Caroline never wanted their son Austin’s diagnosis of PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified) to keep him from living an amazing life. And now they know that mission is accomplished. At 33, Austin has achieved a wonderful sense of independence, working at Publix for almost two years and living by himself.
As parents, Donald and Caroline want Austin to continue to have a good life after they’re gone. The Palmetto ABLE Savings Program allows the Baileys, as well as Austin, the ability to put aside money for his future and enjoy tax advantaged market returns. With his background in finance, Donald really appreciates this benefit. He also likes that contributions to Austin’s Palmetto ABLE account can be deducted from their South Carolina state income tax return.
Donald tells us he thinks families who have a loved one with a disability will miss a wonderful opportunity if they don’t take advantage of a Palmetto ABLE account. He says that for him and his family, choosing to save with Palmetto ABLE is a “no brainer.”
“In the game”
Gail Farrior’s son Will has always loved sports and just wanted to be in the game and part of the team. The coaches loved him because he was so encouraging, always cheering on the other players.
Gail wants Will to feel like he’s always in the game, still contributing and as independent as possible. Will has a sister who will look out for him, but Gail doesn’t want Will to be his sister’s financial responsibility. Through Palmetto ABLE, Will and his family are saving to ensure that never happens.
Today, I’m thrilled to report that Will used the money he saved in his Palmetto ABLE account to help purchase his first home – an exciting step for his future. Gail tells us she’s confident that the ability to save with tax benefits will be useful to any family of a person living with disabilities – just as it has been for hers.
Easy to use, easy to save
Through Palmetto ABLE, individuals with disabilities can enjoy all the advantages of an ABLE account. They can save and invest money without losing eligibility for public benefits programs, including Medicaid, SSI, SNAP and HUD. And when they withdraw funds, the earnings, are not subject to federal income tax as long as they are spent on qualified disability expenses.
Peace of mind, independence, security – we all want them. I’m happy to say that through the Palmetto ABLE Savings Program, people living with disabilities and their families can enjoy them, too.
For more information, visit palmettoable.com.