– by Maryann Pugh

PHILADELPHIA, PA — Treasurer Stacy Garrity led a triumphant celebration at the Veterans Multi-Service Center on Thursday, marking the Pennsylvania ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) savings program’s historic milestone of exceeding $100 million in assets. In a mere six years, this tax-free savings plan designed for Pennsylvanians with disabilities and their families has not only secured eligibility for crucial benefits but also has demonstrated its remarkable potency and flexibility.

This program’s key objective is to provide a financial safety net for those with disabilities, enabling them to retain their eligibility for essential government benefits while enjoying the freedom to plan and save for their future. The program has seen substantial growth over the last three years, with assets nearly tripling.

Treasurer Garrity, along with Joe Brooks, the Executive Director of the Veterans Multi-Service Center, and senior representatives from the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation, commemorated this savings milestone and called on employers statewide to support the PA ABLE initiative.

The program surpassed the $100 million asset milestone in November last year, and currently boasts more than 8,500 accounts owned by Pennsylvanians, with a total asset value exceeding $115 million.

The PA ABLE program established its roots in bipartisan effort, with strong backing from Senator Bob Casey, a Democrat, who led the federal ABLE Act into law in December 2014. At the state level, Senator Lisa Baker and former Representative Bernie O’Neill, both Republicans, were integral in establishing PA ABLE, enacted in April 2016.

PA ABLE’s reach has extended considerably due to the federal ABLE Age Adjustment Act, enacted in 2022. Starting in 2026, the law will lift the age restriction for eligibility from 26 to 46, potentially benefiting millions of Americans, including around one million veterans.

Contributions to the PA ABLE accounts since the program’s inception in April 2017 have amounted to $133.7 million. More than $37.6 million of those funds have already gone toward disability-related expenses, covering necessities from groceries and rent to healthcare and transportation, in addition to long-term expenses such as education and assistive technology.

The program offers seven different savings and investment options, including a checking account, allowing account owners to contribute up to $18,000 per year. Contributions can be deducted from PA state income taxes, and account owners pay no federal or state income tax on account growth if used for qualified withdrawals.

In 2023 alone, contributions touched $32.5 million, with $11.9 million withdrawn for qualified expenses. Additionally, an impressive 1,817 new accounts were opened.

PA ABLE leads the 19-member National ABLE Alliance, accounting for over 25% of its total assets. Since assuming her role, Treasurer Garrity has thrice reduced the fees for PA ABLE account owners, further solidifying her commitment to ensuring the financial stability of Pennsylvanians with disabilities.

This milestone for PA ABLE is a testament to the hard work and dedication of Treasurer Garrity and her team, as well as the support of individuals, families, and advocacy groups across the state. It also highlights the importance of programs like PA ABLE in providing financial empowerment and independence for individuals with disabilities.

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