Special Needs Planning

ABLE Accounts

ABLE accounts were created as a result of the passage of the Stephen Beck, Jr.  Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014, also known as the ABLE Act. ABLE accounts help provide financial security for individuals with disabilities by allowing earnings in the account to grow free from federal taxes as long as withdrawals are used for qualified disability expenses. Eligible expenses could include basic living expenses, housing and healthcare, among others.

The ABLE Act created greatly improved financial opportunities for individuals with disabilities. For the first time, individuals with disabilities and their families can save money for the future without jeopardizing eligibility for critical government supports.

Sara Weir

President, National Down Syndrome Society

An individual can only have one ABLE account and annual contributions are generally capped at $17,000. Rollovers from 529 plans are also allowed. These accounts were designed not to interfere with an individual’s eligibility for government benefits. However, if an individual’s total resources, including their ABLE account, go over $100,000, SSI benefits will be suspended.

To qualify, the individual must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Be entitled to benefits based on blindness or disability under Title II
    or XVI of the Social Security Act, or
  • Have a signed licensed physician’s diagnosis that he or she is either
    • (a) blind (within the meaning of the Social Security Act),
    • (b) has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which results in marked and severe functional limitations and which can be expected to result in death or has lasted (or can be expected to last) for a continuous period of not less than 12 months and/or
    • (c) has a condition listed in the “List of Compassionate Allowances
      Conditions” maintained by the Social Security Administration.

In either case, the applicable blindness or disability must have occurred before age 26.

For more information about ABLE Accounts, visit the ABLE National Resource Center (ablenrc.org).

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