(WJBK) – A production crew crowded into Chris Ruzzin’s apartment, a promotional shoot for a state program that’s aimed at helping the disabled save money.
“It was something that I’d never heard of and I’m very eager to find out more about it,” Ruzzin said.
It’s a government program from the state treasury called Miable, a 529 savings plan for people with disabilities who risk losing their government benefits if they save too much money.
“This is for people that either have relatives who want to make donations or for people who have and income and they need to shelter that income to protect their eligibility for those benefits, that’s who this is for,” Miable Program Direct Scott Devarona said.
Devarona has been traveling the state educating families about Miable. Former Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley the father of an autistic daughter, championed the legislation in 2015 as a way for families to save now and for the future without losing disability benefits like Medicaid and Social Security.
“We’ve told them for too long, you can only have $2,000, that’s all you can ever have, and if they have vast expenses for a wheelchair accessible ramp or wheelchair accessible vehicle that can cost $80,000. How are they going to save that money if they’re limited to $2,000, now with an Miable account you can,” Devarona said.
The Michigan program is open to anyone who was disabled before the age 26, regardless of their age now. Currently they have 2,000 accounts with $7.7 million dollars invested.
There’s no minimum to invest, the maximum is $15,000 a year.
“This type of account you can begin saving immediately and use the funds immediately for any disability related event,” Devarona said.
It could be medical care, transportation, housing, or education. Account holders will have access to a visa debit card for expenses.
Thousands of disabilities are covered and the program is open to people across the United States.
For Michigan residents there’s also a tax incentive.
“Anyone who contributes is eligible for up to a $5000 income tax deduction on their Michigan Income tax return, which makes it very beneficial to these families to actually contribute to an able account,” he said.
Devarona says this program has enabled older people with lifelong disabilities to finally save some money, while other families are trying to prepare for a lifetime of challenges.
“Most of the people who have invested now are typically people with small children with disabling conditions that want to make sure they have something going forward,” Devarona said.
It’s an investment in financial stability, the state hopes more people will take advantage of the program. People like Chris Ruzzin who has always been an advocate for giving people with disabilities access to a better life.
“Everybody wants to be acknowledged equally and considered equally, everybody wants to accomplish the same thing in one way or another,” Ruzzin said.
For more information on Miable please visit www.miable.org or call 844-656-7225.