HENDERSON–Nevada this week became the first state to launch a grant program using American Rescue Plan Act funding, using $5 million to provide grants to children with disabilities who have ABLE accounts. State officials also said the program represents the largest investment into ABLE accounts in the nation.
The TOTS Grant Program (short for Transforming Opportunities for Toddlers and Students) will provide $5,000 grants to children with disabilities through deposits to their ABLE accounts. Nevada Treasurer Zach Conine, whose office has state authority over ABLE accounts, said the investment can “create pathways out of poverty for 1,000 Nevada families.”
“Throughout the pandemic, Nevada’s children with disabilities were among the hardest hit due to the effects of distance learning and social isolation,” said Gov. Steve Sisolak at an event on Oct. 25 to award the program’s first grants. “I am incredibly proud to launch this first-in-the-nation program to provide our children with disabilities an opportunity to recover and rebuild from this pandemic stronger than ever before.”
ABLE accounts are tax-free savings accounts that enable people with disabilities to save money for qualified expenses without running afoul of eligibility rules for social safety net programs like Medicaid and Social Security. Programs such as those typically cap savings or retirement funds at $2,000 for a person to be eligible.
ABLE accounts can be used to pay for things such as housing, education and transportation, or items or services related to their disability, such as assistive technologies. The full list of eligible expenses is set at the federal level.
Earlier this year Conine’s office sponsored legislation, which passed with bipartisan support, to allow for solicitation of private donations and grant funds to seed new ABLE accounts.
Funds granted through the TOTS program are not required to be paid back, but applicants must meet certain requirements. They must be a Nevada resident under the age of 18, have a qualifying disability to open and ABLE account (or already have an ABLE account), and have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 or its economic impacts.
More information and the program application are at NevadaTreasurer.gov/TOTS.
Source: Nevada Governor’s Office