Meet our 2019 ABLE NRC Ambassadors

Shane Wegner

Individual who is blind Canadian (Legal U.S. Resident)
Minneapolis, MN
ABLE Program: Tennessee

Law student who is a Senior Accessibility Consultant in Minneapolis, MN for Thomson Reuters. ABLE funds are being saved for retirement.

Shane Wegner smiling, standing outside.
Shane Wegner in a boat, sitting at the steering wheel.
Shane Wegner sitting on a motorcycle

Shane Wegner’s Highlight from the October 2019 AchievABLE Newsletter

Shane Wegner is a Senior Accessibility Specialist working with Thomson Reuters, a job he started in August 2019. Before that, Shane worked in similar roles at the Target Corporation and Dahl Consulting. A U.S. resident originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Shane lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his partner. Shane is also a part-time law student at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, and he is on track to get his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in 2022. Shane is an ABLE account owner with the Tennessee ABLE program, having opened his account with them in 2017 before the program was closed to out-of-state residents. 

In honor of October being National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), the ABLE National Resource Center (ABLE NRC) is highlighting Shane’s story as a working-age individual with a disability who is employed, not receiving any means-tested benefits and who is using an ABLE account very strategically for a long-term goal. Shane is accessing all the mechanisms he can to minimize the additional expenses that come with navigating the world as a blind individual while also maximizing his financial options in the hopes of early retirement. His employer provides the accommodations he needs and offers retirement options with matching funds that Shane accesses.

I use my ABLE account as a tax savings vehicle since it offers a ROTH-like quality beyond a regular ROTH IRA. It’s much more flexible, which is helpful if I ever need to access it before retirement. Having said that, I contribute to the account with no plans to withdraw from the account until I retire,” Shane shares.

A member of the National Federation of the Blind, Shane has been blind since birth. This makes Shane eligible for an ABLE account, although he wasn’t sure he was eligible at first. As a Canadian citizen and legal U.S. resident, Shane had some questions about eligibility. After doing his homework, he found out that being a legal U.S. resident, and based on his age of disability onset and type of disability, he qualified for ABLE. He shares that he wishes he had known he qualified sooner because he missed out on a whole year’s worth of potential investment growth within his ABLE account. Based on his long-term investment goals, missing even a single year’s worth of ABLE savings matters to Shane because his goal for his ABLE account is to maximize retirement savings along with other retirement vehicles that are available to him. 

For Shane, another benefit of having his ABLE account is that he was able to use the assets in his account to help him qualify for a mortgage on his first condo. He is pre-approved and waiting on the mortgage to be finalized. The closing date is expected at the end of this month. After that, he will be living in a lovely studio in downtown Minneapolis where he will have an easy commute to work.

In 2017, the ABLE NRC’s state comparison tool helped inform Shane’s choice of ABLE program. Given his goal of retirement and deep understanding of investing, according to Shane, Tennessee’s program was the ideal option for him. It was open to out-of-state residents at the time and offered the most variety in terms of choice of investments along with competitive fees. With an undergraduate degree in business, a fondness for doing financial modeling and saving towards retirement as his primary goal, Tennessee’s program was a perfect fit, and he has no plans to change programs. 

An advocate for ABLE accounts among his friends who are also eligible, Shane’s experience has been that many of them haven’t heard of ABLE and/or do not understand the power and potential of an ABLE account. Shane breaks it down for them.

When asked to share his ultimate advice is, Shane says, “For those who hesitate – for someone like me who is working, not receiving means-tested benefits and who has assets to build, there is no benefit to using the ABLE account on a regular basis. The longer-term is where the real benefits reside.”