During this General Assembly, the Ohio House has strived to make Ohio families a priority, passing legislation to lower taxes, enable pathways to a stronger education, and create jobs. We have also been working on legislation to assist families with special needs, whether it is helping a family member overcome addiction or providing pathways for better care for those with a disability. This June, the State Treasurer’s office launched a new program to enable individuals with disabilities the option to save and invest.
In December 2014, Congress passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, allowing individuals with disabilities nationwide the ability to create accounts that can be used to help maintain health, independence, and quality of life. Made possible through the passage of House Bill 155, which was sponsored by Representatives Jonathan Dever and Margaret Conditt, STABLE accounts have been established in Ohio and are administered by the State Treasurer. Ohio is the first state in the country to offer the program.
In essence, a STABLE account is an investment account available to eligible individuals with disabilities. These accounts operate in a similar manner to normal bank accounts, but the earnings are tax-deferred and tax-free when used for qualified expenses. Qualified expenses include housing costs, education, healthcare, and more. Additionally, STABLE accounts provide a savings opportunity without causing a loss of eligibility for certain needs-based benefits programs, like Medicaid.
The launch of this program is a historic moment for Ohio, and I am proud that our state is leading the charge nationwide. STABLE accounts are an important step in the effort to assist those with disabilities. The accounts allow such individuals to live healthy, independent, and sustainable lifestyles and to efficiently manage the extra costs of living with a disability. Not only will they give those with a disability the confidence and financial assistance to be more self-sufficient, but they also provide families with a sense of relief that their loved ones are able to provide for themselves and are being taken care of.
Living with a disability can sometimes cause additional financial costs and healthcare worries for individuals and families. Those with unique needs deserve the opportunity to save and invest for their specific necessities just as any other Ohioan does. I’m proud that STABLE accounts provide this avenue, and I’m looking forward to seeing the program’s results as it continues to be implemented. If you or a loved one is interested in opening a STABLE account, more information can be found at www.stableaccount.com.
Cliff Rosenberger is the Ohio House Speaker.