By Ellyn Hefner
A Continuing Series on the OK STABLE program
This story was originally printed in Jan. 2021.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma STABLE accounts provide financial independence and independence for individuals with disabilities by dramatically increasing the ability to save. Before OKSTABLE accounts, individuals with disabilities could only save $2,000 before losing needs-based benefits. Launched May 31, 2018, Oklahoma’s OKSTABLE account allows individuals with disabilities to save. An account holder can deposit up to $15,000 per year or if employed, an account holder can deposit up to $27,490 per year.
This article is about the owner of an OKSTABLE account, Ellie.
Ellie lives in a group home and loves her independence. Ellie, along with her parents looked for a group home that suited her. They found a home that is fantastic, Ellie liked it and after a trial period of 2 different weekends, Ellie packed her bags for the next weekend to live in her newfound home.
With her new home, also came a trial and error of “new” jobs until she found one that she really enjoyed. “Who knew she had a green thumb?” said her mom.
Ellie has been at her job working at a community garden/greenhouse for some time, and enjoys it. Because of OKSTABLE accounts, Ellie can have a job that she loves and make minimum wage and not lose her benefits. Ellie has savings to get things that she needs.
Like a phone. Her mom told me about the time Ellie’s phone broke. Ellie uses her phone for safety and the text is used for communication. Ellie had enough money saved in her ABLE account to purchase a new device that she needed for her safety and communication without affecting her benefits.
“No program can prove its value without gaining the testimonials of those it serves” stated Doug Jackson, Deputy Director of the national STABLE Account program. Jackson continued “This is why it is great to gain story after story like Ellie’s. Each story is likely to resonate with another individual or family with a disability. Then the next account is opened to benefit the next person, and this becomes the next testimonial.
OK STABLE changes one life at a time, and we do the work we do in administering this program to hear about these lives changed, when the next person gains the opportunity to save money and keep his/her supports such as Medicaid and SSI.”
Last week I took my son to a store so he can use his OKSTABLE credit card to purchase something for himself. To be honest, I did not like his choice of what he purchased but he has to grow in his independence as well. His OKSTABLE credit card is also giving him an understanding of purchasing power…he was pretty proud of himself. He said, “I finally got to swipe my credit card!”
With growing independence and ability to save it gives myself and Ellie’s mom “peace of mind”. Our kids are OK and are learning how to take care of themselves.
Go to OKSTABLE.org to see if you are eligible to apply for an OKSTABLE account.
Questions? Call Ellyn Novak Hefner 405-640-9408.