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New Program Lets People With Disabilities Save For The Future Without Losing Benefits

Mark J. Terrill
Anastasia Somoza speaks on disability rights during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Monday, July 25, 2016.

A new Pennsylvania program allows adults with disabilities and their families to save money for future expenses.

Pennsylvania ABLE was launched Monday and is open to people with intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities or blindness – or anyone who qualifies for Social Security Income or Supplemental Security Disability Income

It’s the result of the federal ABLE Act which was passed in 2014, led by Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey. It was then up to individual states to design their own programs.

ABLE accounts allow people with disabilities and their families to save money tax-free and not have those savings negatively impact their government benefits.

Nancy Murray, president of the Arc of Greater Pittsburgh at Achieva, said the livelihoods of people with disabilities often rely on benefits like social security or Medicaid.

If someone has saved more than $2,000, they would normally be disqualified for those benefits.

Now, up to $100,000 can be saved and used for a variety of disability-associated expenses, including future care.

Family members want to be able to put money aside for the family member who has a qualified disability,” Murray said, “so that when they’re no longer here to help their family member, those dollars would be available.”

Murray said tens of thousands of families in the state could qualify to use the accounts. According to Cornell University, in 2015, roughly 1.7 million people in Pennsylvania reported having some kind of disability

Ten other states currently have ABLE programs in place