Celebrating 4 Years of the Attainable Savings Plan

Boston, Massachusetts, UNITED STATES


Boston, May 26, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Less than a decade ago, individuals living with disabilities risked losing federal benefits if they saved more than $2,000. The savings cap resulted in financial instability and future uncertainty for people with disabilities.

However, a change in federal law and the creation of state-sponsored savings programs has improved the lives of thousands of individuals and families, according to program participants and advocates. The federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act allows individuals living with disabilities and their families to save up to $15,000 per year without impacting their eligibility for government benefits. Under the ABLE Act, MEFA launched the Attainable Savings Plan, giving individuals and families the ability to save and invest for disability-related expenses, free from federal income taxes.

“I’ve spent years surviving, and now I’m thriving,” said Priscila Espinosa, a graduate student at Bentley University. A decade ago, doctors diagnosed Espinosa with a significant disability that interrupted her pursuit of higher education and work. Nearly homeless, she “couch surfed” among family and friends while collecting Social Security Disability Income, which meant she was forced to live under the $2,000 cap. Then came the Attainable Savings Plan.

With Attainable, individuals with disabilities like Espinosa can now work and save their income. Family members can save money for them, a feature especially important as parents age and consider the future of their adult children.

“We hear from parents and their adult children about the importance of being able to save and plan for the future without the anxiety of risking federal disability benefits, which are an important piece of the financial picture for individuals living with disabilities. We are proud to report Attainable is achieving the desired impact of encouraging tax-free savings for future disability expenses,” said Thomas Graf, Executive Director of MEFA.

Since the launch of Attainable four years ago, over 8,000 individual accounts have been created with a combined worth of $67M.

Nationwide, ABLE Savings Plans, including Attainable, can cover expenses for eligible individuals to maintain or improve their health, independence, and quality of life, such as education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technologies, personal support services, or health and basic living expenses. The program is available to individuals who have been diagnosed with a significant disability prior to the age of 26.

The federal government provides an array of benefits for people with disabilities, but those means-tested programs often restrict the ability of individuals and families to save without jeopardizing eligibility. Funds saved in an ABLE account do not impact Medicaid benefits, and balances below $100,000 do not impact Supplemental Security Income benefits.

For Espinosa, Attainable has been an important tool to help manage her finances. She launched a start-up, SproutChange, and has been able to foster financial independence, going from “couch-surfing,” to living with roommates, to moving into an apartment on her own. She is also pursuing a dual MBA/MS in Human Factors in Information Design.

“Achieving these personal and financial goals has also led me to achieve my professional development milestones on a gradual basis while on my healing journey,” she said.

For more information about Attainable, visit mefa.org/save/attainable-savings-plan

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ABOUT MEFA

MEFA is a not-for-profit state authority, not reliant on state or federal appropriations, established under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 15C. MEFA’s mission, since its founding in 1982, has been to help Massachusetts students and families access and afford higher education and reach financial goals through education programs, tax-advantaged savings plans, low-cost loans, and expert guidance. All of MEFA’s work aligns with the ever-present goal to support the independence, growth, and success of Massachusetts students and families. Visit mefa.org to learn more or follow MEFA on Twitter @mefatweets and on Facebook at mefaMA

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Attainable, the ABLE Savings Plan offered by MEFA and managed by Fidelity

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