BATON ROUGE – State Treasurer Ron Henson and the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA), a program under the Board of Regents, today announced the launch of a new 529A saving plan to help individuals with disabilities save money in order to gain more independence, maintain their health and have a better quality of life.

“Louisiana families who are struggling to provide a better life for children with disabilities will now be able to invest money tax free to pay for a variety of qualified disability expenses,” said Treasurer Henson.

The Louisiana Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, known as LA ABLE, allows tax -free deposits to an ABLE account, so long as the funds are used on qualified expenses such as education, housing, transportation, employment training, health and wellness – to name a few.

“LA ABLE is Louisiana’s new program that provides Louisiana families with the ability to help those with disabilities in paying for necessary expenses,” said Senator Dan Claitor. “Individuals who invest in LA ABLE accounts can make tax-exempt deposits as long as funds are expended on approved services.”

Family and friends can now adequately save money, without worrying about whether dollars in the 529A account will be counted against them when determining eligibility for federal and state benefits programs. An account owner can save up to $14,000 per year and continue receiving Medicaid and Social Security. If at any time the balance in the account meets or exceeds $100,000, SSI will be suspended. Once the balance decreases, those benefits will be reinstated.

The sponsor of the original legislation, Representative Franklin Foil, said “The LA ABLE accounts are intended to help families save money tax-free to assist with qualified disability expenses, much like the state’s START program provides a mechanism to save for college expenses.”

The State Treasurer has selected a number of short, intermediate and long-term investment options for the LA ABLE Program, thus allowing individuals to choose the option that best suits their needs.

“The Treasury is working with Vanguard to oversee investments in LA ABLE,” said Treasurer Henson. “The program will be structured very similarly to Louisiana’s START Saving Program, which was ranked number one in the nation for investment performance.”

The LA ABLE 529A Program will be administered by LOSFA on behalf of the Louisiana Tuition Trust Authority (LATTA). LOSFA will be responsible for receiving and disbursing the funds using processes similar to those established for the START 529 college saving plan, which the agency also administers on behalf of the LATTA.

“We are so excited about the launch of LA ABLE and the savings opportunities that will now be available for families with disability related expenses,” said LOSFA Executive Director Dr. Sujuan Boutte’. “The implementation of this program would not have been possible without the assistance and collaboration of many dedicated individuals and groups – our legislative leaders, the members of the ABLE Account Authority, Board of Regents Administration and our staff who worked diligently with all parties to make this possible,” Boutte’ added.

“The newly created LA ABLE program reaches out to serve individuals with critical needs and provides them with a pathway to direct their resources toward solutions,” said Commissioner of Higher Education, Dr. Joseph C. Rallo.  “At the end of the day,” he continued, “it is a marvelous example of creating a public program to meet a very worthwhile private need.”

The Arc of Louisiana, an organization that promotes improving services available to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has also anxiously been awaiting the launch of this program. Kelly Monroe, The Arc’s Executive Director, said, “The Arc of Louisiana, The Arc of Baton Rouge and People First of Louisiana have been working with Representative Franklin Foil and Senator Dan Claitor on passing the Louisiana ABLE Act since 2013. In July of 2014 it passed with 68 legislators co-authoring the bill. For the first time in history, people with disabilities will be able to work and save for their future without jeopardizing their supports and services which will lead to greater independence. We are very excited to finally see this come together for individuals with disabilities and families.”

Sharon Hennessey, Executive Director of People First of Louisiana and Chairperson of the LATTA’s ABLE Advisory Board said, “The ABLE Act has made it possible for people with disabilities to save money without jeopardizing their services.  Louisiana has recognized the value of this and has established the LA ABLE program. This is a very important step towards independence for people with disabilities in Louisiana.”

To learn more and to open a LA ABLE account, visit www.able.osfa.la.gov.

Contact:
Gus Wales
(225) 219-7576
gus.wales@la.gov