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4/19/2017

Granville Sentinel: New plan lets those with disabilities save

Granville Sentinel
By Craig McDonald
April 19, 2017

GRANVILLE - For Tanner Krupp, his new state-directed savings account represents independence, responsibility and a chance to perhaps realize his dream of one day owning a green pick-up truck.

His ability to save larger sums of cash pleases Tanner, because as he puts it, “I like to have money saved, because that is what smart adults do.”

For his parents, Wanda and Steve, their son’s new financial savings tool provides peace of mind regarding his future welfare.

Tanner, who lives in Newark and who turned 21 recently, was born with Down syndrome in 1996.

In the years since, Tanner has worked here and there for skills experience, and occasional pay.

But under previously existing law, Tanner was prevented from amassing more than $2,000 in a savings account because of government benefits he was also receiving.

However, a new savings/investment concept pioneered in Ohio and now expanded to 48 states allow Tanner and others with disabilities to save up to $14,000 per year through “STABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts, aimed at allowing individuals with disabilities to grow their money and save for long-term expenses.”

The “tax-advantaged savings accounts allow families to set aside money to use on qualified expenses, such as education, healthcare, housing and transportation,” according to a State Treasurer’s news release.

During a special event Monday spotlighting the STABLE accounts at Hope Farm in Granville, where Tanner cares for horses and helps with farm upkeep and operation, Wanda spoke of the peace of mind the savings account brings her and her husband as parents.

“We feel more secure knowing when we are gone, his sister will make sure he’s able to continue his lifestyle in the way he chooses,” she said.

She said that previous law that capped savings for Tanner and others, was “crazy,” and that it placed families in a terrible place as parents caring for children with disabilities aged and increasingly worried for their child’s future.

“I followed the conception of the bill (leading to the STABLE Accounts), and continued to follow it,” Wanda said.

When the STABLE account system finally went on line, she said, “We got his account open as quickly as we could… He wants to buy a truck someday, but I said what about a house?”

Wanda said enrollment was very easy. “I’m not computer savvy, but we were done in three minutes… Enrollment was easier than emailing my daughter out-of-state.”

On Monday, Tanner conducted a very personal tour around Hope Farms, explaining the work he does there, and talking about each of the animals he cares for and cleans up after – particularly the horses, his favorites. He spoke about each horse’s traits and quirks with officials from the Treasurer of Ohio’s office and representatives of the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Of Tanner’s presentation, Doug Jackson, STABLE Account Deputy Director for the treasurer of Ohio, observed, “This is the best part of my job, seeing how people succeed in using the accounts… You can tell Hope Farm is a huge part of his life.”

Wanda said her son began riding horses at a facility in Centerburg as a child.

Eventually, Tanner found his way to Hope Farm Granville, “a non-profit organization providing therapeutic riding resources to children and adults through individual and group lessons,” according to its website.

Tanner first came to Hope Farm several years ago for summer camps, but it soon became apparent, according to Susan Ginese of Hope Farm, that Tanner, “was more of a barn-guy… Here is work; he doesn’t ride here now,” she said.

Tanner said that while he rode as a child, as an adult he no longer feels driven to ride horses and prefers caring for those and other animals on the farm, except the sheep, which he describes as “motor-mouths.”

These days, Tanner also enjoys collecting and listening to country music, and saving for his dreamed-for “big” green truck.

He recently celebrated his 21st birthday with a trip to Nashville, where he saw concerts featuring Carrie Underwood and Scotty McCreery. He returned from Nashville with a new pair of black western boots which he wore for Monday’s tour.

Tanner is also polishing his resume, and will be looking for possible part-time employment opportunities.

According to Jackson, Monday’s tour was also about “getting the word out,” about STABLE accounts so others might benefit.

Mandi Merritt, press secretary for Treasurer Josh Mandel, noted there are now nationally about 2,700 enrolled in the account system; more than 1,500 of those are in Ohio.

She also said the accounts are transferable across state lines.

Jackson said, “This is a legal and appropriate way for people like Tanner to manage their resources… You can save your money in your own name, and even get a prepaid, loadable debit card, which is also very empowering.”

Jason Umstot, Superintendent/CEO of Licking County Board of DD said, “For us to see families be able to save without fear of losing benefits is a huge hurdle overcome.”

The Board of DD will host a special “Family Discussion” program regarding STABLE accounts from 6 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 16 at E.S. Weiant Center Gym, 116 N. 22nd St. in Newark, presented by Jackson. The program is free-of-charge. More information is available by calling 740-349-6588.

To learn more about STABLE accounts, visit stableaccount.com.

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