ABLE Accounts: Building Upon the Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Approximately one in five Americans has a disability. These Americans have the same hopes and dreams to participate in society as everyone else. On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act. President Bush then said, “As the Declaration of Independence has been a beacon for people all over the world seeking freedom, it is my hope that the Americans with Disabilities Act will likewise come to be a model for the choices and opportunities of future generations around the world.”

The American with Disabilities Act requires accessibility for people with disabilities and prohibits discrimination. It extends the promise of equal opportunity and full participation for those people living with a disability.

Full participation includes the opportunity to become economically self-sufficient. Yet, millions of people with disabilities and their families depend on programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for food, housing, and other benefits. These programs are restricted to those people who have limited income, resources and savings.  Historically, to continue receiving benefits under these and other programs, you cannot save money.

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts help eligible beneficiaries save and have power over their own money. The funds in an ABLE account are not counted by most federally-funded means-tested benefit programs like Medicaid and SNAP. SSI does not count up to $100,000 in an ABLE account.

Disability-related expenses can lead to financial stress. Savings and contributions made to an ABLE account by the account owner, their family, friends, employer or other sources, can be used for emergencies or to support education and the owner’s future retirement. The funds can also be used for qualified disability expenses including food, housing and maintenance, medical expenses, and expenses related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. ABLE accounts add an additional layer of financial security, especially while navigating an uncertain future.

Over 63,000 individuals—out of an estimated eight million who are eligible—have opened ABLE accounts to date, making ABLE accounts one of the most under-used ways to save money and retain much needed benefits. For many people with disabilities, ABLE accounts have transformed their lives. Read our ABLE Ambassadors stories to learn what motivated them to take advantage of this opportunity and what advice they have for those who have not yet taken this important step.

To learn more about ABLE accounts and state ABLE programs, visit the ABLE National Resource Center (ABLE NRC), managed by National Disability Institute. The website has information on how to become ABLE ready and offers a state ABLE program comparison tool and guidance on setting financial goals. Building on the promise of the American with Disabilities Act, the ABLE Act can forever change lives by providing the opportunity to save money in an easy to open, low-cost, accessible, and tax-advantaged account.

Miranda Kennedy is the Director of the ABLE National Resource Center for the National Disability Institute.

This is a guest blog post created by the National Disability Institute to promote the use of ABLE accounts.  SSA provides this post as a courtesy to help notify the public of ABLE accounts.  SSA is not affiliated with and does not endorse the National Disability Institute or its services.

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66 thoughts on “ABLE Accounts: Building Upon the Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act

  1. I was denied for disability because I applied for the wrong one because I haven’t paid in enough taxes so what do I do now beings that’s the only reason I was denied?

    • Hi Kayla. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  2. 10 -15-2020
    I have been ripped off by my prior payees, that have given me only SSI funds, of about 750, to 775 per month, for a few years now, I changed my first payee because I did not accuse him but SSI did and he said he just didn’t want to be my payee anymore if he is going to be accused, but he never gave me anything extra than my monthly ssi pa ever. My second payee and I, went into the ssi department on 38th and Broadway to inform them I have another person that said they had no problem being my new payee. We stated that my first payee is quitting. The ssi department gave us paperwork to fill out and hand into becu credit union, so that we have separate accounts, and anything of my new payees would be hers, and anything of mine, would be mine. Becu said the paperwork was not correct. My new payee and I went back to the ssi department, showed them the paperwork, and they said that is correct, there is no other paperwork. My new payee and I went back to becu, and let them know it was correct. My new payee and I set up an account at becu for me, giving the paperwork back to becu and showed them the same paperwork again, and let a becu employee know that ssi said this is the correct paperwork, and they replied “oh yeah you are correct, that is the correct paperwork”. I asked my payee 3 times if we could go to the bank, and get some of my funds. After my new payee putting me off for 3 days and on the 4th day when I asked my payee again for the 4th time, if I could get some funds. My new payee said ” I didn’t know how to tell you this, but……they swept your money ” . I asked what swept meant she said “it was the term becu used” .We then went to wells Fargo and opened an account. I asked my new payee about getting my funds that becu swept, given back to me, because everything was in order. When I talked to an employee at becu she said “there are laws in place to protect me from that”. I told my new payee, what becu said, and my new payee said, “well then I will have to pay that back.” I asked her many times how come I haven’t received my back pay, or anything else yet, but my monthly ssi funds of 750, to 775 per month. She started to become mad at me for asking for my own cash back, and she changed her phone number on me so I could not have any communication, but just continued to just have my rent paid and just gave me the rest of my ssi minus the rent. I am still wondering why I did not receive anything but my monthly income, and nothing else yet, becu should not be able to take my funds, that were supposedly suposed to protected for me, but were not. Thank you sincerely Eric Arlen Mootz

    • Hi Eric, thanks for using our blog. If you think your payee is misusing your benefits, tell Social Security right away. We will investigate all allegations of misuse, gather facts and evidence, and make a decision on whether misuse has occurred. You will receive a letter from Social Security telling you what we found. If we find misuse, Social Security may name a new representative payee for you or send the benefits to you directly. We will then take action to recover the misused money.

      Check out our Representative Payee web page for additional details.

      You can report misuse by calling us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  3. Social Security has Deducted Medicare payments from my monthly checks. They kept the money, and then cancelled my Medicare for non payment. The Proof is in my payment history.
    I’ve made several calls every week since May to my local office. Per each call they say it will be fixed and nothing has been done. I need Medicare.

    In addition once I started complaining I mysteriously receive a refund check for one month. When Medicare was Deducted every month.

    Please Help ASAP

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