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DENVER -- Colorado has joined a growing list of states with a new program that offers tax-advantaged savings plans for people living with disabilities.
The new Colorado ABLE program will allow disabled individuals and their families to save up to $100,000 in the special accounts, without affecting their eligibility for SSI, Medicaid and other public assistance.
"It's like a 529 (college savings) plan, but it's more flexible on what we can spend dollars on," said Kari Droller, the mother of a 3-year-old who has Down syndrome.
Droller said in the past, parents with disabled children were "handcuffed" in terms of how they could save and invest for their child's future.
Before the ABLE legislation, eligibility for SSI, SNAP and Medicaid required a "resource test" that limited eligibility to individuals with less than $2,000 in savings.
Droller says she grateful things have changed.
"It means a ton to us," she said. "You know, today, we've got him on private health insurance, but in the future, when he's an adult, or when we're not around anymore, we don't know. Medicaid may be a really critical safety net for him. We never want to jeopardize that."
"There are a lot of unknowns with a diagnoses like this, that this helps control," said Dan Droller, Alden's dad.
The 3-year-old finished his first day of "pre-school" Friday. He told his mom and dad that he colored and cut up paper.
"Just in the last couple of months, his vocabulary has exploded," Kari Droller said. "He's a big brother now."
She added that having an ABLE account will help give Alden a sense of independence down the road.
You’re entitled to SSI or SSDI because of your disability; and
Your disability was present before age 26.
Money from ABLE savings/investment accounts can be spent on any expenses that are incurred as a result of living with a disability.
Qualified expenses include, but are not limited to:
Health and wellness
Employment training and support
Personal support services
Oversight and monitoring
Funeral and burial expenses
According to the website, earnings (interest/investment gains) from ABLE accounts are not taxable on Federal forms.
The Colorado ABLE plan offers a wide range of investment options from aggressive plans seeking higher returns to conservative investments that place capital preservation over growth. All are managed by Ascensus.