Northeast Mississippi families welcome ABLE Program

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TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – People with disabilities in Mississippi now have more independence and financial freedom, thanks to a program that has been years in the making.

Spencer Kirkpatrick is getting ready for his senior year at Mississippi State, and he also has a paid internship this summer. He has a busy schedule, but managed to spend a few minutes, with his Dad’s help, signing up for a special savings account.

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The savings account is part of Mississippi’s ABLE Program, which allows people with disabilities to save money without losing Medicaid or social security benefits.

Until the ABLE program,  Spencer would lose some benefits if he had more than $2,000 in assets.

“When he earned that small paycheck he was penalized a little bit , so this allows him to earn and keep more money and really stand on his own two feet a little bit more.  It may sound cliche but he can be a productive member of society,” said Spencer’s dad Kevan.

And that’s the point of the ABLE Program, helping individuals with disabilities – Achieve A Better Life Experience.

“In a year or two, he will be out on his own and earning his own living, this will make it a lot easier for us to make sure he’s well set up for the future,” said Janna Crowe, whose son, Dee has signed up for an ABLE account.

The ABLE Act is a federal law that was passed in 2014. Each state must enact its own ABLE account, similar to how college savings plans are set up.

Rick Courtney is chairman of Mississippi’s ABLE Board. He has an adult daughter with a disability who will sign up for the long overdue program.

“Things don’t go quickly in the social security world, this is a whole new dynamic for people with disabilities to be able to have additional financial resources and manage them for their own needs.,” Courtney said.

ABLE accounts can be used for daily expenses, or for long term savings.

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