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Michigan

MIABLE Program Offers Financial Freedom For Disabled Michiganders

It is expensive to live with a disability and it is difficult for those Michiganders to save for their lifestyle needs. The state is pushing a program that offers relief.

Wednesday morning Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared August #AbleToSave Month. A nod to the MIABLE Program, a savings and investment account system for those with disabilities.

“We tell every other segment of the population, save, plan, you never know, plan for a rainy day,” says Scott De Varona, director of the MIABLE Program.

MIABLE is a major asset for disabled Michiganders but not many know of it. Only about 1% of qualified people are using it and don’t realize the freedom it offers.

“To really provide financial liquidity and help for individuals without penalizing them,“ says Jim Holz, father of a disabled son interested in the program.

“There is an asset threshold, says De Varona, “If they exceed that threshold, they are cut off from their medical benefits that are provided by the state and federal government.”

That threshold is just $2,000. Enough to live on with day-to-day expenses but not enough to save for a future.

“It’s impossible to become economically self sustainable if you are limited to $2,000 in assets,” says De Varona.

In the past, disabled Michiganders have had to get creative to beat the system.

“Like keeping money in other family member’s names,” says De Varona, “Like spending frivolously on things they don’t need because they were close to that asset threshold.”

The account does have some restrictions, just $15,000 a year can be added and it must be spent on certain things like transportation, education, food, housing healthcare and other disability related expenses. It is all tax free and donations are tax deductible.

“With a MIABLE account, the individual has the power to manage their money,” says Holz.

The power, responsibility, and options every other Michigander gets with their own money.

“In this population, we’ve told for generations don’t save, don’t invest,” says De Varona, “Because if you do, you’re going to lose your medical benefits and we’ve got a change that.”