The long-awaited Enable Savings Plan for qualifying individuals with disabilities in Nebraska and nationwide was launched today by Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg and First National Bank of Omaha in a celebration at Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha.
Jacob Gehringer of Omaha, a Nebraska native and advocate for the disability community, was the first to open an Enable account during the celebration, which was attended by more than 450 guests, most of whom were individuals with disabilities and their families.
Among the guests were Nebraska Lt. Gov. Mike Foley, who proclaimed June 30 as “Enable Day,” and Nebraska Sen. Kate Bolz of Lincoln, author of state legislation in 2015 that resulted in the creation of the Enable Savings Plan.
In addition to state officials and bank representatives were state and national advocates including Autism Speaks and the National Disability Institute; Jacob Gehringer and his fellow 11 “Enable Heroes” and their families; and Jason Gieschen of Ogallala, Nebraska, the Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger for Special Olympics.
The Enable Savings Plan provides qualifying individuals with disabilities an opportunity to save for the future and pay for everyday expenses in tax-advantaged savings accounts. Eligible individuals living in Nebraska or in any other state in the United States may open accounts online or by mail starting today by visiting EnableSavings.com.
Treasurer Stenberg is Trustee of the Enable Savings Plan, and First National Bank of Omaha is Program Manager.
“In the past individuals with disabilities have had few options to save, but today marks a turning point,” said Clark Lauritzen, Executive Vice President, Corporate Banking, Wealth, Investments, First National Bank of Omaha. “At First National, we have a history of doing what’s right for our customers and the communities we serve. We are proud to be the first bank in the country to offer an ABLE plan nationwide, and we look forward to helping people with disabilities achieve their hopes and dreams.”
“This is a momentous day for the people of Nebraska. After more than a year of meticulous planning, we are proud to announce the nationwide launch of the Enable Savings Plan for individuals with qualifying disabilities living in Nebraska or elsewhere in the United States,” said Nebraska State Treasurer Stenberg.
“We are excited to be a leader in offering these tax-advantaged savings accounts for children and adults with qualifying disabilities to save and invest their money without jeopardizing benefits they may receive through public assistance programs like Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. We also are excited to be signing up our first account owners, and we wish them well as they take these long-awaited steps toward financial well-being, increasing self-sufficiency, and greater independence,” Stenberg said.
The Enable Savings Plan was created by First National Bank and the Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office in partnership with families and national and state disability advocates and providers and was designed to meet the unique needs of account owners. Intended to provide greater financial independence for individuals with disabilities, the Enable Savings Plan offers a variety of low-cost investment options from which account owners can choose to meet their needs, based on age, personal circumstances, and savings goals.
With today’s launch of the Enable Savings Plan, First National Bank is the first financial institution in the country to develop and offer an ABLE plan in cooperation with state government.
“The Enable Savings Plan allows people with disabilities and their families to save as much as $100,000 without losing Social Security benefits. Helping people feel secure in their financial future is what we have strived to achieve. Throughout the last seven months, I have been humbled by the many sincere, authentic, and personal stories from future account owners and the importance of Enable to them. We are delighted to be part of their lives and to provide an opportunity to help people with disabilities become as self-sufficient as possible,” Deborah Goodkin, Managing Director, Savings Plans, First National Bank, said in a prepared statement.
Also in a prepared statement, Rachel Biar, director of the Enable Savings Plan for the Treasurer’s Office, said the following: “Through the many contributions of colleagues and members of the disability community and their families, we have achieved a significant milestone. As I watched Jacob Gehringer open the very first Enable account today, I was filled with pride in how far we’ve come, as well as excitement for the future goals and aspirations we have for the Enable Savings Plan.”
The Enable Savings Plan came about as a result of the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience Act – known as ABLE – passed by Congress in 2014. The act was modeled after state-sponsored 529 college savings programs, like the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST). College savings programs take their name from Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. ABLE programs fall under Section 529A of the IRS Code. Treasurer Stenberg is also Trustee of NEST, and First National is Program Manager for NEST.
To follow updates and learn more about the Enable Savings Plan, visit EnableSavings.com or treasurer.nebraska.gov, read the Enable Savings Plan blog, and like Enable Savings Plan on Facebook. To enroll, go to EnableSavings.com.
Enable is a tax-advantaged savings plan to help make saving simple and affordable for individuals with disabilities. The Nebraska State Treasurer serves as Program Trustee. First National Bank of Omaha serves as Program Manager, and investments are approved by the Nebraska Investment Council. Visit EnableSavings.com and treasurer.nebraska.gov for more information.
About First National Bank of Omaha
First National Bank of Omaha is a subsidiary of First National of Nebraska. First National of Nebraska and its affiliates have more than $21 billion in assets and 5,000 employee associates. Primary banking offices are located in Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas.