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Investment Account Aims to Help Individuals with Disabilities in N.H.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

People living with either physical or intellectual disabilities often face financial hardships. Good paying jobs can be out of reach, while the costs for transportation or assistive devices such as a wheelchair can be prohibitive.

A new investment account for New Hampshire residents may ease some of that burden. Similar to a “529” college saving account, qualified participants can now invest money and use those funds on a range of needs.

“This is monumental. It is a game changer, because now those with a disability can achieve greater financial independence,” said Chuck Saia, executive director of the Governor’s Commission on Disability, during a press conference kicking off the program.

Under the program, residents can save and invest money through an “ABLE account.” Crucially, funds invested in these accounts don’t factor into eligibility for other public benefits programs. Money can be withdrawn tax free for use on qualified expenses such as housing, transportation, or assistive technologies.

The state has launched a dedicated website--stablenh.com--where residents can see if they qualify and enroll in the accounts.

The program is a result of a multi-year effort by lawmakers, advocates and state employees. Gov. Chris Sununu attended the program’s kickoff event, saying that “at the end of the day, everyone deserves equal opportunity.”

Investments in ABLE accounts are capped at $14,000 annually, with account holders given a range of mutual fund options to choose from. Recipients can also request a “STABLE Card” which allows users to spend and track qualified expenses.

“The way I look at it, this is another step in the true New Hampshire fashion of leveling the playing field,” said Saia. “Leveling the playing field for those with a disability so that they can enjoy all facets of society that we all are entitled to.”

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University. He can be reached at tbookman@nhpr.org.
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