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State to launch 'ABLE' savings accounts

Posted at 9:47 PM, Mar 28, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- A new tool will soon be available for families who have a loved one with disabilities.

The state of Indiana is laying the groundwork to create savings accounts to plan for the unexpected.

They're called "ABLE" accounts, which stands for "Achieving a Better Life Experience."

The goal is to help families prepare for the future and people with disabilities to become self-sufficient.

Karly Sciortino-Poulter knows the joy of being a parent. She also knows the unique challenges that come with having a child with a disability – like her 15-year-old son Andy, who has autism.

"There are so many new things you have to learn," she said. "You have to learn the education rules. You have to learn all of the medical information. You have to learn all of the insurance information."

She pointed to finances as one of the biggest challenges.

"Your child might need therapy – very common things like speech therapy and occupational therapy – and yet your insurance company won't cover that," Sciortino-Poulter said. "So then you have this delicate balance: you have to figure out getting your child the medical care they need while also making sure that you can pay your rent."

Sciortino-Poulter oversees family advocacy programs at the Arc of Indiana. She brings her own experience to the job, helping families navigate state and federal services. She'll soon have one more to discuss.

An "ABLE" account – similar to a college 529 savings plan – will allow families like hers to save for transportation, healthcare and education expenses.

The goal: Planning for the future while encouraging self-sufficiency.

"This finally allows me to be able to teach my son how to save money." Sciortino-Poulter said. "So that as he does get older, if he is able to work, which is something we can strive for, we can also teach him the importance of saving so that if something unexpected comes up, he has his own resources to take care of those things."

President Barack Obama signed the federal "ABLE" act into law a little more than a year ago, giving states the option of offering the accounts. 

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