South Carolinians with special needs can now save without losing benefits

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - State Treasurer Curtis Loftis opened the door to tax-advantaged savings for people with disabilities across South Carolina on Thursday.

South Carolina becomes the 29th state to activate "ABLE" accounts. The Stephen Beck Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act was passed in 2014. It's also known as the ABLE Act. 49 states have passed the legislation, but South Carolina becomes the 29th to activate it.

"For the first time ever, individuals with disabilities can save for their future without being penalized," said South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis. "They don't have to worry about losing the important benefits that they already have. So this is fantastic."

Fantastic – Lorri Unumb is breathing a sigh of relief. The Vice President of State Government Affairs for Autism Speaks has two sons that sit somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Her 16-year-old son, Ryan, stood with her Thursday as she made remarks about the SC Able program.

"For us as a family, it permits us to save money for Ryan's needs whether they be residential or housing support or caretakers," said Unumb. "And some of that he can get state and federal benefits that can help with some of that. But, we would like to maintain a great quality of life for him, especially after we are gone."

Unumb said it also provides incentives for people with special needs to work. That rings true for 23-year-old Rachel Lewis, who has down syndrome – and recently walked the runway in New York Fashion Week! She also works at her local YMCA in Greenville as a child caretaker.

She was ecstatic Thursday as she pressed the final button activating her SC Able account.

""I get an ABLE Account because it's my money," said Lewis. "My ABLE account is mine and just mine... I treasure it forever."

If you'd like to learn more about the ABLE program and how it can help your loved one, click here

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