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Group for disabled sues SC savings plan over similar name

October 13, 2018

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A group that helps the disabled in South Carolina is suing the state Treasurer’s Officer saying the name of the agency’s savings program for people with disabilities is too similar.

The group, founded in 1994, is named Able South Carolina. The savings program, established by a 2016 law, is South Carolina Able.

“The treasurer’s decision to market the program as SC Able has created widespread confusion among the people the law is designed to help,” Kimberly Tissot, executive director of the nonprofit program told The Greenville News .

South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Lofits said in a statement that he is just following the law passed about the 529 savings plan.

“The program’s name can only be changed by the General Assembly,” Loftis said. “We have repeatedly advised Able South Carolina that we consent to any request they make to the General Assembly to change the name of the program.”

The lawsuit doesn’t ask for money, instead asking the Treasurer’s Office to change the name of its program and destroy any material with the old name or similar branding.

The lawsuit said the confusion has caused the group to spend time and money dealing with confusion. Lawmakers call the group wanting to set up saving plans that allow people with disabilities to open savings accounts without jeopardizing benefits like Medicaid.

The Treasurer’s Office program has used several different names already to market itself, including SC Able, STABLE and SC Able Savings Program, said trademark lawyer Tom Moses, who represents the group.

“There’s no reason for this,” Moses said. “It’s been frustrating.”

A co-sponsor of the bill creating the program said he wasn’t aware of any confusion before the lawsuit. Republican Rep. Mark Willis of Fountain Inn said he would be happy to help get a bill passed next year to change the program’s name.

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Information from: The Greenville News, http://www.greenvillenews.com

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