SALT LAKE CITY, UT. (ABC 4) – On Wednesday, September 8, the Utah Department of Workforce Services and the Utah State Treasurer’s Office announced the launch of ABLE Utah, a free savings program for tax for people with disabilities receiving needs-based benefits.
“They deserve to have the same rights and options as everyone else,” said Utah State Office of Rehabilitation assistant director Aaron Thompson.
Thompson said people with disabilities have enough difficulty finding employment. That’s why he thinks they should be able to save money and invest without potentially losing their benefits.
“When participating in an assistance program like Medicaid or Social Security, there is an income and asset threshold, so it’s really hard to explore your options and opportunities and save money. because you look at that threshold and if you exceed it, you could lose those benefits, ”said Thompson.
As a result, he said they didn’t have so many opportunities and incentives to work.
To address this issue, ABLE accounts were created at the federal level through the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act in 2014 and established in Utah by the Utah Legislature in 2015. Until 2021 , however, these accounts were administered out of state. With the launch of ABLE Utah, residents can now access these accounts through the Department of Workforce Services and start saving and investing.
“This saves you money that you can invest for disability-related expenses so that you can contribute over $ 15,000 a year into these ABLE accounts,” Thompson said.
ABLE Utah accounts act like a regular bank account or investment tool, similar to a 529 college savings account or 401 (k) retirement account. Contributions and income from ABLE Utah accounts are not subject to federal or state income tax if they are spent on qualifying expenses, such as education, health care or housing and transport. Contributions to ABLE Utah accounts are made in after-tax dollars.
“This savings program will benefit people with disabilities statewide and help them lead more independent lives, find stability through gainful employment and plan for the future,” said Sarah Brenna, director of Utah Rehabilitation Services Office.
ABLE Utah account holders can receive a debit card directly linked to their account. Money can be withdrawn and spent on qualifying expenses as needed. Users can contribute up to $ 15,000 per year. If they have a job, they can contribute $ 12,760 in additional income. The investment tools include four mutual fund-based investments and an FDIC-insured savings option.
“Even if you put 50, 20 dollars in a month… you’re going to see it grow. So when you see this investment and what you can use it for, that will be the long term impact, ”said Thompson.
“ABLE Utah will be a beneficial asset for people with disabilities statewide,” Utah State Treasurer Marlo M. Oaks said. “This savings program is an important part of our ongoing efforts to provide better opportunities for Utahns with disabilities and to support Utah’s economy and workforce.”
Thompson said the program is available to those who suffer from injury, mental health issues, addiction or have autism.
More information about ABLE Utah, including the application form and eligibility requirements, is available at www.ableUT.com.