Author: Julie Anderson, Mother of an Enable Account Owner
When my son Joe was born in 1996 with spina bifida, I had no clue how much I was about to learn. Luckily, we had an awesome Early Intervention coordinator who helped us through the early years. Then came school, IEPs, new braces, a wheelchair, doctors’ appointments, more new braces, and before I knew it, high school graduation. Joe decided not to go to school right after high school and got a job at a nearby state park’s shooting range. We were told about Social Security Insurance (SSI) and when he applied, he qualified. This also qualified him for Medicaid which helps to pay for his medical expenses.
SSI is a great benefit but restricts the amount of money he can have in savings to $2,000. Joe is not unlike other kids his age and he has plans for his future. He is almost 24 years old now and after working a few years at the shooting range he has decided to go to school to be a gunsmith. He has always dreamed of owning his own business, living on his own, having a family, and living a life just like everyone else. That is hard to do when you can only have $2,000 in your bank account.
We heard about the Enable Savings Plan when I attended a workshop sponsored by the PTI-Nebraska and decided to check into it. The Enable Savings Plan is the result of the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) passed by the Nebraska Legislature in 2015. The Plan allows individuals with disabilities to save for qualified disability expenses. The money saved will not be considered when determining eligibility for other benefits such as SSI, earnings from the account are not taxed, and when money is withdrawn to pay for qualified expenses it is not taxed either. Contributions to an Enable account can be made by anyone and will be eligible for the same tax benefits.
We met with a representative from the Enable Savings Plan and asked plenty of questions. She answered our questions completely. It seemed to be just what Joe needed to achieve his goals. He can save money, and use that money for living expenses, medical bills, and other qualified expenses while he is going through college and working towards achieving his dream.
Individuals with disabilities and their families are not just challenged by everything that goes with the disability but also by the rules and restrictions of the programs that are meant to help them. To be financially able to support himself, a family, and to have a business that will give others a place to work will be possible because of the Enable Savings Plan.
My dream for Joe is no different than any other parent’s dream for their child. What I love about the Enable Savings Plan is that it opens doors and makes it possible for dreams to come true. It enables people with disabilities to live their best lives.