Lansing — New Michigan laws will let people caring for the disabled open tax-exempt savings accounts to pay for their long-term needs such as housing and transportation.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, accounts will offer advantages similar to 529 college savings plans.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signed the bills Wednesday while Gov. Rick Snyder was in Canada. Calley says the laws will help the disabled “live more self-determined independent lives.”

Money in the accounts will be disregarded so people with disabilities can still qualify for public assistance.

Another measure raises the maximum account balance in a Michigan Education Savings Program plan from $235,000 to $500,000. The maximum allowed balance in an ABLE account must be the same as a state’s college plan limit.

The laws take effect in January.

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