Thought Leadership Thursday
MO ABLE & Payroll Deductions
Thought Leadership Thursday Article
My staff recently received a note from Marleen, a City of Kansas City employee, who said, "Thank you so much for making the MO ABLE Program available to employees of the City of Kansas City, Missouri. I love my son Caleb, and creating an account for him provides assurance that he has some resources to become an independent adult."
As a KCMO employee for over twenty years, Marleen worked with a Kansas City Councilwoman to encourage the City of Kansas City, Missouri to become the first local government in Missouri to offer payroll deductions for MO ABLE accounts for its 5,000 employees. Encouraging employers to add payroll deductions for ABLE accounts has been an initiative of mine since I took office in 2019.
We know that payroll deductions make saving automatic and easy. But they also foster inclusion for employees with disabilities and families with a child living with a disability.
By eliminating the need to deposit money into a standard bank account and then transfer that money into an ABLE account, employees with disabilities are given the same opportunity to save as those who do not need an ABLE account. Likewise, for parents of a child with a disability, a payroll deduction option for an ABLE account provides the same opportunity to save for that child as a parent might save directly into a 529 account.
As the parent of twin sons with special needs, I know firsthand that anything that makes something easier--even a payroll deduction--has a meaningful impact.
Inclusion and opportunity are the main goals—but another benefit is simply the sharing of information about your state’s ABLE program. I know most states are like Missouri in that we are unable to market our ABLE programs with our 529 budgets. Thus, getting information about MO ABLE into the hands of those who can benefit is not always easy. By including it on a list of eligible payroll deductions, employers are helping spread the word about this program to employees and families who can use it.
Getting the ear of human resources departments and convincing them that this is a worthy endeavor that does not require additional work on their part is not always easy! But the payoff is worth it.
And we have had some success. CoxHealth, the largest employer in Southwest Missouri was the first to sign on and add this benefit. Missouri’s universities have also been supportive of this initiative. As we begin to travel the state again for in-person events, we hope to grow this list.
Last October, for National Disability Employment Awareness Month, my Office partnered with Chambers of Commerce across the state to conduct outreach to employers about adding this payroll deduction to their benefits list. Through this, we’ve added a major grocery store chain in St. Louis and a large central Missouri bank.
Most recently, we added the City of Kansas City and our capital city, Jefferson City.
I am hopeful that as things continue returning to normal, human resource departments will be less bogged down with pandemic-related management and will be able to consider adding this beneficial opportunity for their employees.
August is ABLE to Save Month making now the perfect time to start working on outreach to employers in your state.
Let’s get to work!