Five years ago, Oregonians who experience disabilities gained an opportunity to build savings and financial security—while not risking their eligibility for vital federal benefits like Medicaid.
How? The Oregon ABLE Savings Plan, a financial empowerment program administered by the Oregon State Treasury. Treasury also administers a national program, known as ABLE for ALL.
Oregon’s disability community and State Treasurer Tobias Read are celebrating the first five years of the state-offered ABLE plans, and an impressive new milestone: $45 million saved by more than 4,500 people experiencing a disability. Additionally, the average account size has reached $10,000, a new high for the program.
“The number of Oregonians improving their day to day lives and saving for the future through ABLE accounts continues to grow,” said Treasurer Read, in a news release. “This program has a critical role to play in empowering the disability community to strive for their long-term goals and pursue their dreams.”
Congress authorized ABLE plans in the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014, and Oregon’s Legislature in 2015 gave the green light for Treasury to create Oregon plans. Treasury launched our state-focused and national programs a year later.
Before the creation of ABLE plans, vulnerable people living with disabilities were functionally forced to live in poverty or else forego vital means-tested benefits, like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, which required eligible individuals to have less than $2,000 in their name.
Money saved in ABLE plans are exempt. Funds saved can be used for anything that helps improve the health, independence, or quality of life of a person with a disability.
Allison Falleur Barber, a Financial Coach at Northwest Access Fund, said the availability of ABLE accounts has changed how people with disabilities can think about budgeting and saving, and the fact they no longer need to spend down accounts every month to avoid being “over-resourced.”
“We are able to evolve the financial mindset of our population from one extremely limited by the reality of financial scarcity to one buoyed by the promise of greater financial security,” she said.
Learn more about ABLE at oregonablesavings.com.
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