Sisolak signs bill strengthening savings program for people with disabilities

ABLE accounts
Clockwise from bottom left: Gov. Steve Sisolak, Treasurer's Office Senior Policy Director Erik Jimenez, State Treasurer Zach Conine and Treasurer’s Office intern Jack Rovetti.
ABLE accounts
Clockwise from bottom left: Gov. Steve Sisolak, Treasurer’s Office Senior Policy Director Erik Jimenez, State Treasurer Zach Conine and Treasurer’s Office intern Jack Rovetti.

An underutilized savings account program for disabled people will soon receive more marketing and promotion, following the signing of a bill by Gov. Steve Sisolak.

Sisolak on Thursday signed into law Assembly Bill 130, which puts the entirety of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Savings Program under the State Treasurer’s Office. Established at the federal level in 2014, ABLE accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts that allow people with disabilities to save money without fear of losing eligibility for public benefits programs like Medicaid and Social Security.

People can save up to $15,000 or $27,140 annually, depending on their employment status, and use that money for qualifying disability-related expenses, including education or job training, assistance services, assistive technology, and accessible housing costs. Many of these expenses can be costly and are not fully covered by private insurance or public benefits.

Prior to Thursday, the authority and responsibilities for the ABLE program were awkwardly divided between the State Treasurer and the Aging and Disability Services Division within the Department of Health and Human Services. Advocates said this caused confusion among both state employees and Nevadans who could benefit from the program, and ultimately led to a lack of promotion.

State Treasurer Zach Conine, who worked with legislators on the bill, said his goal is to make get more people to take advantage of the program. He also supports federal efforts that are currently underway to expand the program to a larger percentage of disabled people.

Currently, ABLE accounts are only available for people whose disabilities presented before age 26.

In a statement released after the signing, Conine said: “People with disabilities are the most underemployed group in Nevada, which often forces them to live well below the poverty line. ABLE accounts give Nevadans the ability to save and earn higher wages, without having to worry about losing access to essential benefits. I applaud Governor Sisolak for his efforts to ensure that every Nevadan has the opportunity to save for a better future.”

April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. April currently serves on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists Las Vegas pro chapter. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, two children and three mutts.


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