HELENA, Mont. — Montana officials have announced the start of a program to help people with disabilities start savings accounts that give them more control on their money and disability expenses, while remaining eligible for medical benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.

The Great Falls Tribune reports (http://gftrib.com/2xK9Bng ) officials announced the program on Tuesday, which is part of a Senate bill passed in 2015.

Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney said the fact it was passed but not funded by lawmakers in 2015 made things a little more challenging.

Sheila Hogan, director of the Department of Public Health and Human Services, says that in the past, people with disabilities were essentially penalized for saving money and being financially responsible. She says the program will change lives of thousands of Montana residents.

Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com