Cincinnati - Fifth Third Bank supports Ohio’s new STABLE Accounts, which allow people with disabilities to save for the future without losing their benefits. Under the new federal ABLE Act, people with disabilities and their families can set aside up to $14,000 a year without affecting their eligibility for Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and other government programs.
The ABLE account, which stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience, is loosely modeled after the popular 529 state-sponsored college savings accounts. Ohio was the first state to launch an ABLE account, with its version called STABLE Accounts. STABLE Accounts, which are administered by Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel’s office, stands for State Treasury Achieving a Better Life Experience. States offer their own versions of ABLE accounts, with different options for investments, managing the accounts, fund limits and other variables.
“By assisting individuals and families with saving and investing, we are supporting persons with disabilities to maintain health, independence and quality of life,” Mandel said.
Fifth Third supports STABLE Accounts through a savings option and custodianship of plan assets. Fifth Third leaders also serve on STABLE’s advisory board and now work to educate families about the benefits STABLE.
“We’re proud to help offer alternative financial solutions that can be life changing for people with disabilities to save and manage their money,” Fifth Third Bancorp President and CEO Greg Carmichael said.
STABLE accounts allow individuals with disabilities and their families to set significant money aside without putting some government benefits in jeopardy. The accounts allow the money to be used for a broad range of things such as housing, transportation and equipment and technology that assist the person with the disability.
“You want to raise your child to be independent, to work, and to do as much as they can,” said Dave Kremer of Cincinnati, whose 33-year-old son, Teddy, has Down syndrome. “And the ABLE accounts help encourage that for families of a person with a disability. Before ABLE, some families discouraged a person with a disability from working because they didn’t want to lose their benefits.”
Teddy works part-time in the mailroom for Fifth Third Bank and part-time in guest relations for the Cincinnati Reds.
Before STABLE Accounts, a person with a disability could not have more than a few thousand dollars in his or her name at any time to remain eligible for benefits.
“This will help me save money for my future,” Teddy said. “So I can save and one day I can go to live with my brother.”
Dave and his wife, Cheryl, have planned for Teddy to one day live with his older brother.
“A big worry for parents of children with a disability is who will help care for them when we are gone,” Cheryl said. “ABLE accounts help us plan for Teddy’s future beyond us.”
Tanner began her career with McDonald's Corporation and has a vast background in education, human resources and operations management. She attended Pensacola Christian College and received her MBA from Xavier University.
All ABLE accounts will:
- Allow saving up to $14,000 a year for things such as transportation, medical needs (including care and equipment) and housing without risking benefits.
- Allow saving up to $100,000 at a time, without putting federal benefits at risk.
- Allow individuals of any age to join but they must have a qualified disability that began before the age of 26.
- Not be subject to federal income tax on earnings as long as money withdrawn is spent on eligible expenses.
Ohio’s STABLE* Account will also:
- Be available for individuals residing in any state.
- Offer a loadable prepaid debit card.
- Have a lifetime cap of $426,000.
- Be available to Ohio residents for $2.50 a month to maintain their accounts plus an asset-based fee between .19 and .34 percent.
- Offer up to a $2,000 state income tax deduction for Ohio residents who contribute to a STABLE Account
- Have tax-advantaged earnings. Earnings made on a STABLE Account are exempt from Federal and Ohio state income taxes, as long as the earnings are spent on Qualified Disability Expenses. If you do not live in Ohio, check with your state taxation agency or financial planner to see if your state also provides an income tax exemption for STABLE Accounts.
ABLE accounts can help lift people with disabilities out of poverty, said Stuart Spielman, senior policy advisor and counsel for the national group Autism Speaks.
According to the US Census, almost 30 percent of Americans ages 15 to 64 with severe disabilities live in poverty, compared to 14 percent of Americans with no disabilities.
“ABLE accounts will ensure that financial planning is not just for people without disabilities,” Spielman said. “For many people, tools like trusts are not within reach because they don’t have a lot to invest, or they are just too complicated. ABLE was created to be accessible, simpler than other financial products.”
Spielman, who has an adult son with Autism, has advocated for laws that would allow a product like ABLE. Now he urges families to explore ABLE accounts among their financial options.
“ABLE accounts give families another choice,” he said. “They help you say, ‘What can I do to make my financial situation better? What can I do to make my kids’ financial situation better?’“
Congress approved the Achieving a Better Life Experience legislation in 2014 making the STABLE Account and other such programs possible. Since then, 46 states have passed state legislation to implement such a program.
*STABLE is a product of the State of Ohio, www.stableaccount.com.
About Fifth Third
Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Company has $144 billion in assets and operates 1,191 full-service Banking Centers, including 94 Bank Mart® locations, most open seven days a week, inside select grocery stores and 2,541 ATMs in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina. Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Commercial Banking, Branch Banking, Consumer Lending, and Wealth and Asset Management. Fifth Third also has an 18.3% interest in Vantiv Holding, LLC. Fifth Third is among the largest money managers in the Midwest and, as of June 30, 2016, had $305 billion in assets under care, of which it managed $26 billion for individuals, corporations and not-for-profit organizations. Investor information and press releases can be viewed at www.53.com. Fifth Third’s common stock is traded on the Nasdaq® Global Select Market under the symbol “FITB.” Fifth Third Bank was established in 1858. Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender.