ABLE 101

Please note: This webpage is under construction.

ABLE 101: Achieving a Better Life Experience Act

This page provides all the information families and professionals need to know about ABLE accounts and how they may affect benefits, including:

  • ABLE basics
  • Different states and different options
  • Managing your account
  • Opening an account
  • Tips and tricks
  • Calculators

ABLE Basics

ABLE accounts are groundbreaking resources for certain people with disabilities to save money and invest for their future. These specialized savings accounts do not count as “assets” that the government uses to determine whether somebody is eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, or other federal benefits. This means that account holders can save money and still receive vital benefits to protect their health and well-being.

Eligibility

ABLE accounts are open to people with disabilities who acquired their disability at age 26 or before. It doesn’t matter how old somebody is right now; it just matters when their disability came about. This can include disabilities from birth, such as developmental disabilities, or acquired disabilities, such as chronic health conditions or major physical injuries.

People can document their eligibility in different ways. They are automatically eligible if they are on SSI for disability, and the disability occurred at or before age 26. Account-holders can get a letter from a physician verifying that they have a qualifying disability. Otherwise, they can self-certify that they have a qualifying disability—and of course, people should be prepared to justify a disability with personally held information or a physician’s note.

Savings and Benefits

Normally, people with disabilities are limited to having $2,000 in assets if they are to receive benefits including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. However, ABLE accounts transform this rule. The first $100,000 in an ABLE account is not considered countable assets for means of determining eligibility for SSI. ABLE accounts have higher levels for Medicaid and other federally means-tested benefits, such as  the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

ABLE’s Tax Advantages

ABLE account programs are set up by different states and run at the state level—but most are open to out-of-state residents, which means that there are many opportunities available.  Assets in an ABLE account grow tax-free.

Visit the ABLE National Resource Center’s website to see which states currently offer ABLE accounts.

Qualified Disability Expenses (QDEs)

The money and ABLE accounts must be spent on items that are considered “Qualified Disability Expenses” or QDEs. This list includes things, such as housing, transportation, adaptive equipment, health care expenses, and even disability-related lawyers’ fees. Some other options, such as 529 accounts or Special Needs Trusts (SNTs), have different limitations.

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