The state is touting the success and growth of a program designed to help Hoosiers with disabilities save money without losing public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. INvestABLE was created four years ago to give people with disabilities the ability to have more money to address current and future needs. State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell says there was an 83% increase in the amount of money being saved through the program in 2020 alone.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Indiana ABLE Authority Executive Director Amy Corbin said the program’s growth can be attributed to several factors.
“We have a very supportive and involved board of directors that supports the program and helps oversee the program,” said Corbin. “But there’s such a great need for this type of opportunity for individuals with disabilities, this type of savings mechanism, that once it catches on (through) word of mouth, the information just really spreads.”
The ABLE program was first established by Congress and states were then required to implement their own initiatives. Mitchell says Hoosiers previously could not save more than $2,000 if they were receiving public benefits. Now, they can save up to $15,000 per year up to a total of $100,000.
“In Indiana, that’s working really well; our average ABLE account balance is over $7,000 now,” said Mitchell. “So it’s doing exactly what it was meant to do which was provide some financial security and peace of mind to individuals who previously weren’t able to save.”
Last year, the number of active ABLE accounts in Indiana grew 48% to 801. The total amount of assets under management through the program increased to more than $5.7 million.
Corbin says working remotely because of the pandemic had an unintended benefit for the program, one that will continue after the pandemic has ended.
“Being able to hold virtual events and webinars and trainings has, I think, allowed the program to grow even more because it allows us to meet people where they’re at in their homes versus me, being a staff of one person running the day-to-day operations of the plan, I’m really able to get a broader reach.”
Mitchell’s office says contributions and earnings in ABLE accounts are not subject to federal or state income taxes if spent on qualified expenses, which is similar to a 529 college savings account. Corbin says her goal is to have ABLE accounts become as much of a household name as 529 accounts.
“Since we’re working with an exclusive group of individuals with a program that has certain qualifications that an individual has to meet to be a part of, (the goal is) being able to proliferate this message within the disability community and just making it a household name like 529s and getting employers on board who would hopefully like to support their diverse workforce and offering ABLE as a workplace benefit.”
One of the eligibility requirements for the program is that the onset of a person’s disability has to have occurred before the age of 26. A pair of bills was recently introduced to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to increase the age requirement to 46, which Corbin says would make an estimated 6 million more Americans eligible for the ABLE program, including 1 million veterans.
Mitchell says the state will continue to advocate for expansion of the ABLE program on the federal level.
Corbin says the program’s growth can be attributed to several factors.