Arkansas’ Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) program, a tax-advantaged investment account for people with disabilities, has been implemented in Arkansas, Treasurer Dennis Milligan announced Oct. 25.


The Arkansas ABLE program was enacted in 2015. Its purpose is to allow people with disabilities to save for disability-related expenses on a tax-free basis, while preserving their ability to benefit from Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and other federal programs, according to a news release.


“We are so glad to get this program up and running,” Milligan said. “Since the moment this legislation was enacted into law, we have been researching best practices and equipping staff members with the appropriate knowledge in order to run this program successfully.”


Arkansas ABLE accounts are 529-A investment accounts and are open to individuals with a physical or mental disability that is expected to last for at least a year or that can cause death. ABLE accounts are open to people of any age, as long as the disability occurred prior to age 26, according to the release.


“I firmly believe that we shouldn’t just give someone a fish and feed him or her for a day,” said Julie Mayberry, the former state representative who introduced the legislation. “Instead, we should teach her to fish and feed her for a lifetime. That is why I so passionately believe in the ABLE program.”


“My husband and I expect our daughter, who has spina bifida, to become independent and learn to provide for her own needs. The ABLE act will help her accomplish this,” Julie Mayberry said.


Accounts can be opened with $25 and account owners can contribute up to $15,000, tax-deferred, each year. Owners may also choose to have direct access to the funds in their account by using a debit card.


People with ABLE accounts may use the funds for any expense that is incurred as a result of living with a disability and is intended to improve their quality of life. Qualified expenses include education, assistive technology, employment training, housing, legal fees and funeral expenses.


“This is a program that is going to help so many people in Arkansas be able to have a cushion for the day-to-day expenses of living with a disability,” Milligan said. “I’m eager to see how it empowers those with disabilities to be able to live more independently and take charge of their future.”


Details: www.ar.savewithable.com or 888-609-8874.