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Manchester Journal: Mike Pieciak - Expanding ABLE accounts for people with disabilities

March 27, 2023

Manchester Journal

March is Disability Awareness Month, and as we celebrate the contributions of people with disabilities to our communities, workplaces, and classrooms, it’s important to recognize that these individuals still face challenges to achieving financial independence. That’s why as State Treasurer I’m excited to promote Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts. ABLE accounts are state-run savings accounts that allow individuals with disabilities and their families to save and invest money without reducing their public benefits like Medicaid and SSI.

Since the program’s establishment in 2018, nearly 900 Vermonters have opened ABLE accounts and now have assets totaling over $7 million. While this is great progress, I know that thousands and thousands more Vermonters could benefit. ABLE accounts can be used for disability-related expenses such as education, housing, transportation, healthcare, and more. Contributions can be made by anyone, including the account holder, family members, and their friends. Also, the minimum contribution requirements are accessible to individuals and families of all income levels. Account holders can choose from a variety of investment options, and ABLE accounts are not just available to children with disabilities. Adults with disabilities can also open an account and benefit from the tax-advantaged savings and investment options.

In fact, in just a few years, even more adults will have access to ABLE. Starting in 2026, individuals who experienced the onset of disability before age 46 (rather than the current limit of age 26) will be ABLE-eligible, expanding access to this important program to more adults who become disabled, including many veterans. I recently heard powerful testimony from one such individual at a National Association of State Treasurers meeting and it gave me hope that this expansion will change many Vermonters’ lives for the better. Aside from the important financial benefits, ABLE accounts provide a sense of independence. An ABLE account can enable an eligible Vermonter to set their own financial goals and priorities, such as saving for education or housing, and to manage their own money with greater flexibility and control.

ABLE accounts also provide security and peace of mind for eligible individuals and their families. By having a dedicated savings account for a broad array of expenses, they can better prepare for unexpected expenses or emergencies, or for housing or vehicle modifications, or any number of other things – all without having to worry about losing their public benefits. During Disability Awareness Month and beyond, let’s work together to create a more inclusive and supportive community for individuals with disabilities. Please help us spread the word about this important program by sharing this information with anyone you know who might benefit. To learn more about ABLE accounts and how to open one, please contact my office or visit our website at www.VermontABLE.com.