Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague, through collaboration with the Department of Administrative Services Director Matthew Damschroder, recently made the STABLE Accounts program more user friendly for people with developmental disabilities and their families.
“We have 11,000 people now signed up on these accounts,” Sprague said. “Eleven thousand people can’t be wrong.”
Ohio established the STABLE Accounts program in 2016 after the passing of the federal Stephen Beck Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014.
According to literature from the state treasurer’s office, the STABLE Accounts program, which is administered through the treasurer’s office, allows Ohioans with developmental disabilities to open an account to save or invest money without losing their benefits of Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.
Sprague said that before the STABLE Accounts program was established, people with disabilities were only allowed to save up to $2,000 before they would lose their benefits. He said that the earnings on a STABLE account are tax-free and not subject to federal income taxes as long as the funds are spent on Qualified Disability Expenses.
Sprague said the limit is $15,000 per year on how much can be added to the account.
He added the account is easy to use, is a “robust financial product,” and features direct deposit for State of Ohio employees with developmental disabilities only. He said his office is looking to expand the direct deposit feature into the private sector once they find a few partners to work with.
Sprague said when he was a state representative, he was approached by a father of a child with developmental disabilities.
“I remember one father who said, ‘You know, I don’t lay awake at night and wonder what you are going to do with the tax policy in the state of Ohio. I wonder about what you’re going to do with the (developmental disabilities) system.’”
Sprague said his office has some aggressive goals to try and add families into the program, because “we know how much it helps them.”
Molly Barber, a Delaware County mother of two adult children with disabilities, said that she and her husband considered a trust fund for their children, but they found that the funds weren’t as readily available as with a STABLE account.
Barber said her children have had STABLE accounts for three years.
“They make it a lot easier than it used to be,” she said. “With a Stable account, they have access to their own money that they can get to for needed expenses.”
Barber said that both of her children always wanted to attend college, so when they graduated high school, they received money as graduation gifts.
“Before, the money sat in a piggy bank in their rooms, because they couldn’t put it in the bank and risk losing their Medicaid and Social Security Supplemental Income,” she said.
Kristine Hodge, superintendent of the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities, said many families the board works with do utilize STABLE accounts for their financial planning.
“We educate our staff and families about this opportunity so that families are aware of all of the options available for their loved ones,” she said. “The greatest benefit to STABLE accounts is it allows the people we serve to have a path toward financial stability and provides families the opportunity to plan for the future needs of their family member.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.