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New 'ABLE' accounts allow people to save, retain benefits

Meridian Star - 6/11/2019

Jun. 10--Marjorie Jordan has high hopes for her grandson, Markhael.

Jordan said her grandson's dream of opening up his own barbershop is coming close to reality because he can finally save money without any worries.

"This will give him a chance to have a business of his own," said Jordan, a native of Louisville, Mississippi.

Jordan is one of many people in Mississippi with a disability who will be able to save money through a new program that was demonstrated Monday at the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services in Meridian. The new program called Achieve a Better Life Experience, or ABLE for short, will allow qualified individuals with disabilities to have a savings account. The money put into the ABLE account will not affect federal benefits an individual receives and it is not taxed.

Following the passage of Senate Bill 2311, the Mississippi ABLE Act, in 2017, the state was allowed to establish the program. Monday was the first day individuals with disabilities could come to an MDR office and set up their ABLE accounts. Individuals can enroll in the program through the Mississippi ABLE website or fill out a paper application available at MDR offices.

To qualify, individuals must have acquired their disability before the age of 26. If the individual is under 18, parents can set up an account. The money saved in the accounts can be saved for retirement or used for expenses such as school and life emergencies.

Jordan said the program is helping to teach her grandson how to save money from his job at Pizza Hut for expenses such as rent.

"He will now be able to put this in his ABLE account and it will grow," Marjorie Jordan said.

She said her grandson was limited to how much he could save because he receives federal benefits.

"This will give him something to save, without tampering or losing his benefits," Jordan said.

Elizabeth Hayes from Jasper County thinks that having an ABLE account will allow her to save more money for her son.

"I have a young son and I am just trying to save for him," Hayes said.

After getting her account set up, Haynes said she is going to let several people know about the program including her father and her friends.

Billy Taylor, chief of staff for the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, said previously if someone was receiving social security disability benefits, they could only have about $2,000 in their name before the benefits were suspended. Taylor said with the new ABLE accounts individuals can put up to $15,000 in their savings accounts through a bank and they will be able to keep the benefits.

Taylor said Monday's event was the statewide launch of the program. Taylor said the goal of the program is to help disabled people become prepared for the future, save more money and to increase their independence.

To enroll in the program, interested individuals can go to https://savewithable.com/nc/home.html or call 1-888-609-3469.

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(c)2019 The Meridian Star (Meridian, Miss.)

Visit The Meridian Star (Meridian, Miss.) at meridianstar.com

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