February 9, 2018
West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue, with honored guest Governor Jim Justice, announced the launch of a new savings program today at the State Capitol. The West Virginia Achieving a Better Life Experience program, known as WVABLE, will provide people with disabilities an opportunity to save and invest without jeopardizing needs-based public benefits.
“I’m excited this type of savings program is now available to those who need it most here in West Virginia,” said Treasurer Perdue. “This is an important step toward empowering more individuals in our state to plan for their financial future.”
WVABLE helps individuals with disabilities put aside money for qualified expenses, such as rent, transportation, education and training. Individuals may save up to $15,000 per year in a WVABLE account, with earnings accumulating tax-free. Individuals must have developed the disability before the age of 26 to qualify.
“This WVABLE plan will allow me to have more control of my life with the day-to-day freedom to take care of medical emergencies and unexpected home repairs,” said Kevin Smith, one of the first people to sign up for the plan. “The difference between me and others in the community is that they can save for those emergencies, but I have and I have always had to watch the balance of my bank account due to income limits because I receive SSI and Medicaid.”
Prior to passage of the ABLE Act, individuals receiving government benefits were restricted in the amount of money they could save or invest without losing public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. Before, financial resources in excess of $2,000 in savings could result in the loss of benefits.
“As a parent of a child with a developmental disability, I can tell you that rolling out the WVABLE program has eased my mind,” said Christina Smith, executive director of The Arc of West Virginia.
“We are thrilled that it is finally available in West Virginia, and I am personally excited that my daughter will now have access to a resource that will enable her to achieve more independence, financial security, and an overall better quality of life,” she added.
A WVABLE account will come with a loadable debit card and have features similar to a checking account, but it is also an investment account similar to a 529 college savings account or 401(k) retirement fund.
“The reason it will be good for the younger generation to have access to this plan is because families could put money in their account for their future and when they get older and are facing the same challenges I am, they will already have money put aside to take care of them,” said Kevin Smith. WVABLE is administered by the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office through a partnership with the Ohio Treasurer’s Office STABLE program.
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