Treasury Launches Oregon Able Savings Accounts on Dec. 8

The treasury has moved up the start date for families and people with disabilities to open state savings accounts to help them with the costs of daily living. Account holders will be able to invest up to $14,000 a calendar year to put toward expenses while still keeping their Medicaid benefits. Correction NOTE: Program launches Dec. 6, not Dec. 8.

A second-grader at Portland’s Bridlemile Elementary, Archer Hinckley loves hiking and music and banging on the drums.

But the boy has Down Syndrome, which impedes his fine-motor skills, and his father, Jonas, is unsure whether Archer will ever be able to drive or work a full-time job.

Treasury Expects 2017 Launch for Savings Accounts for Disabled People

The accounts will take a year for the Oregon 529 Savings Board to set up with the help of outside investment advisors. Families of people with disabilities will be able to deposit money in the accounts that will be invested without losing government assistance.

Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler has set the stage for new tax-free savings accounts for people with disabilities, directing a citizen panel to hire an investment advisor, set rules for the program, and get these accounts ready to go by 2017.

Legal Settlement for People with Intellectual Disabilities Opens Door for Real Jobs

The state conceded its fight against disability rights advocates and agreed in a settlement to offer integrated job opportunities for thousands of intellectually disabled people, whom advocates argued had been unnecessarily cloistered in closed workshops doing menial work for terrible pay.

The state of Oregon will be forced to take concrete steps toward offering people with disabilities a chance at work outside sheltered workshops and into the regular workforce, with all of the wages and benefits it offers, under a landmark agreement released Tuesday.

State Policy Encourages Fuller Lives for Disabled, but Denies Them Equipment

Disabilities activist Joseph Lowe has appealed to the Legislature to require the Oregon Health Authority to provide the equipment people need to move around in their communities -- not just their homes -- so that others won’t have to fight for their right to participate as he did. Even as CCOs show a 9 percent profit margin, people with disabilities are being denied the wheelchairs and scooters they need to leave the house.

Joseph Lowe has been in a wheelchair since he was five years old, but he never had any persistent back pain until recently, when the state refused to pay for the durable medical equipment that his doctor prescribed to meet his needs.

Employment Providers for Disabled Still Waiting on DHS Funding

Non-profit agencies that help employ people with disabilities got their funding slashed during the worst of the Great Recession. They thought they successfully lobbied to get their funding restored this June, but a lawsuit and a governor’s order has the Department of Human Services rethinking its priorities.

When the agencies that provide jobs for people with disabilities lobbied the Legislature for a better Department of Human Services budget this summer, their leaders thought they would see their own funding restored that was cut in the recession.


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