Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt was in Kansas City Tuesday to promote MO ABLE, a new savings program for people with disabilities.
“Look, when my son was born, we opened up a college savings account. You have all those hopes and dreams,” says Schmitt. “Emotionally, psychologically, that’s tough for families.”
Schmitt's 12-year-old son is nonverbal on the autism spectrum.
The tax-advantaged accounts function similarly to Missouri’s 529 college savings plan and can be used to pay for assistive technology and long-term care.
Liberty resident Michel Ann Kaiser’s son also has autism. Worried about who would take care of him after she died, she began setting aside money for his long-term care.
“Other teachers, parents and therapists suggested we seek out special needs financial planning, which we did. As we met with the planners, we were shocked to learn the money we had set aside for Dalton may actually put him at a disadvantage in the future for some of the benefits out there for him,” Kaiser says.
Money contributed to a MO ABLE account can be withdrawn tax-free to pay for qualified expenses.
Missouri residents can deduct up to $8,000 dollars or $16,000 if filing jointly. Schmitt doesn’t foresee a significant impact on the state budget. He says it took him about 15 minutes to set up an account for his son.
Elle Moxley covers Missouri schools and politics for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.