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

    • Hi Zachary. We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked long enough and recently enough in jobs covered by Social Security (usually within the last 10 years). The (SSI) program is a needs based program that gives cash assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. We pay disability benefits to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. If you think you may be eligible to receive disability benefits and would like to apply, you can use our online application.

      For information on public housing assistance visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website. Thanks.

  1. I am trying to save I was told these accounts were only for those w disability from childhood a former cancer diagnosis rendered me on SSI. Do you have info on trusts I’m due to receive.money after a death but afraid I cannot use for housing or retirement wo losing benefits. Do you have info on special needs trust

  2. I’ve one thing to say to all the people suffering on SSI and are so Disabled, physically or mentally or both like me to the worst extent possible.!! All of what I just read in this ( Blog) by Miranda Kennedy and whoever else is involved to a certain degree, and a major factor to the people like me on SSI in sec 8 Apt, on F.S, ( Suffering Hardships) due to the ( Destitution caused Directly from the Government) who are Responsible for This Since I’m truly (Unable to Work) at All!!! ( ABLE) OFFERED ZERO HELP TO HELP ME SURVIVE FINANCIAL SUPPORT) ! AND THE ( AWDA) ACT IS A FRAUD DEPT!!! My Life has been Destroyed over and over again by (FALSE HOPES PROMISES) BY THE GOVERNMENT TO THE PEOPLE ON SSI/DISABLED, UNABLE TO LIVE A NORMAL LIFE), due to the (Disgusting contribution of 773.00$ per Month I’m Forced to Attempt/Try to be able to have the minimum amount to have the basics to pay for (ELECTRICITY/CELL/INTERNET/INSURANCE OR GO OUT ONCE A MONTH)!! IF ANYONE OF THE MILLIONS OF DISABLED), READING THIS SUFFERS THIS CRUEL AND UNUSUAL VIOLATIONS AS A PERSON ON SSI AS A RESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATE’S OF AMERICA as a person who is a individual as a ( American with the Disability Act) who knows the (Truth and Travesty) by this (Lie) knowing were never going to lead a Normal Meaningful Life able to Afford to do anything with it), unless you do what I was forced to do (Crime, Dumpster Diving, living destitute under any Bridge I would hopefully be safe at) which I’ve been able to avoid for over (7Years) now!! I’m so very Sorry for the Confusion/Propaganda All these Blogs Cause, leading to Further Pain and Suffering they’re directly Causing. !!! Sincerely yours, Jeffrey Ready

    • Now you AND disability, know exactly why this is the “ ABLE accounts, one of the most under-used ways to save money and retain much needed benefits.” The “much needed” part gets me smh. How are we supposed to save and put money in ANY account, when we don’t even get enough to cover all of our bills in the first place?

  3. Hello, I recently read a false statement that SSA is committed to providing benefits quickly to applicants whose medical conditions are so serious that their conditions obviously meet disability standards. This is simply not true.
    I have Cerebral palsy and have since birth, I am now almost 50 years old. I have never received ONE RED CENT from SOCIALIST SECURITY, nor will I ever.
    One may ask “why” and my reply would be a simple one. SOCIALIST SECURITY has cute little “rules” that somehow magically cures a permanently disabled person.

    You can be as permanently and totally disabled as one can be and your permanent disability will last the rest of your life. Should you happen to find love and get married, somehow that SS RULE of getting married, somehow magically cures all your disabilities and makes people want to hire you for full time work, not!

    At the end of the day, you will still be permanently disabled, it will las the rest of your life, but because you got married, SOCIALIST SECURITY uses a “WE HATE LEGAL MARRIAGE RULE” to strip you of any and all benefit you may be entitled to as an “ADULT DISABLED CHILD”.

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