JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – State Treasurer Eric Schmitt will roll out the Missouri Achieving a Better Life (MO ABLE) program Monday.
The program will allow families and individuals with either physical or mental disabilities to set up designated savings accounts to pay for expenses related to their special needs. The savings accounts are used to help pay for the long-term needs of those with disabilities, alleviating families of the unique financial stresses that can come along with having a disabled child.
Schmitt spoke about the expansion in a special Wednesday live streamed edition of This Week in Missouri Politics, the first of the #TWMPLive series, from his office.
The idea for MO ABLE came from the 529 college savings plans creates by the federal government in the early 1990s. Any money contributed to those accounts became tax deductible, and any interest gained on those accounts was not taxed, as well. MO ABLE essentially does the same thing for individuals with disabilities.
Schmitt’s own son suffers from epilepsy and autism, so he knows personally how important a plan like this can be.
“I’ve come to know so many people with these disabilities, and the long-term costs can be really challenging for a lot of families and individuals,” Schmitt said. “These accounts will allow individuals to grow their savings, to empower individuals with disabilities for their own financial independence and security, but also give families peace of mind.”
Funds from those savings accounts can be used to retrofit homes for greater accessibility or assistive technology. Schmitt said the program will be a major help to the 800,000-plus Missourians who live with disabilities, and he believes it “gives a lot of hope to families across the state.”
The treasurer has worked on this issue for a long time. As a senator, he carried and passed legislation to enable the ABLE Act in Missouri. The law was signed by then Gov. Jay Nixon in 2015. Last month, he joined a new partnership with several other states to expand the ABLE program to make it more accessible.