By Ellyn Hefner
The City Sentinel’s continuing series on Oklahoma’s STABLE program.
Note: This is the February 2021 story, published on page 7 of The City Sentinel print edition. We regret the long delay in sharing this with online readers. Print copies can be found each month at locations all across Oklahoma City.
OKLAHOMA CITY – OK STABLE exists to allow people with disabilities to save and invest money without jeopardizing their eligibility for public benefits programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
When asked why one of its participants was saving money, the response was ideal… “I want to do what smart adults do. I want to save money”.
Notice that this young adult account owner doesn’t just want to do what adults do. He wants to do what SMART adults do. Saving and investing money is not a practice that all people do. Whether you are living with a disability or not, people choose to manage their finances differently. However, OK
STABLE makes it possible for persons with disabilities to save money. This is a change in mindset for people with disabilities that had been forced to keep their own financial resources below $2,000 if their life required the supports provided through public benefits programs. In 2017, Oklahoma put state regulations into place that were enabled by the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, and created OK STABLE.
“Imagine being told throughout your life that you could not save money… and now being told you can”, stated Doug Jackson, Deputy Director of the national STABLE Account program. Jackson went on “this means we have to teach new financial habits.”
The Power of Saving Over Time
We all have things we regularly spend money on. A cup of coffee. A lottery ticket. Or, a pizza. Using pizza as an example, imagine saving the cost of a $10 pizza each week over ten years. Without any interest earned, you would have saved $5,200. Perhaps if you invested this money over the same period of time, you could have even more.
Reasons to Save
If you are a parent of a child with a disability, you know you won’t be around forever. Your child is likely to outlive you. Saving money now could provide the resources to pay for the things you buy now for your child once you are gone. If you are the person with a disability, saving your money could help you attain whatever financial goal you have. Vacation. Purchasing a home. A vehicle. Saving for the season of life when you can no longer earn a paycheck.
Begin Saving Today
“Smart adults save money” is an idea that would not have existed for people with disabilities. But with OK STABLE, people with disabilities can save much more like a smart adult. To learn more about OK STABLE, visit okstable.org, or contact disability advocate and financial planner Ellyn Hefner by phone at 405-640-9408,