Disability, Guest Bloggers

ABLE Act: What You Need to Know

December 17, 2020 • By

ABLE-Act-What-You-Need-to-KnowOn December 19, 2020, we celebrate the sixth anniversary of the Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which allows eligible people with disabilities to create tax-free savings and investment accounts. On November 19, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service released final ABLE regulations.

The ABLE Act enables people with disabilities to have savings accounts while receiving benefits. Prior to the availability of ABLE accounts, saving money proved challenging for many people living with a disability because programs often have income and resource limits. People with disabilities, have on average, 28% more costs associated with disability-related expenses than those who do not have a disability. ABLE plans allow people to save for those extra costs associated with having a disability, while maintaining public benefits, such as SSI and Medicaid.

Since the first ABLE program opened in 2016, ABLE account holders have saved over $550 million—with more than $100 million spent on disability-related expenses. As of the third quarter of 2020, over 75,000 people with disabilities had opened an ABLE account, with an average of over $6,000 saved and invested in each account. Those numbers demonstrate the ability of ABLE account owners to save for their future needs.However, less than one percent of ABLE-eligible individuals have opened an account.

ABLE accounts can provide funding for qualified disability expenses that supplement, but do not replace, benefits otherwise available through private sources, employment, public programs, or other sources.The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not restrict the usage of the ABLE funds, leaving it open to items or services that relate to the unique needs of each individual, including those related to COVID-19.

Individuals eligible for ABLE accounts may need assistance opening their account and understanding how to get the maximum benefit from it. The IRS authorizes a priority of order, regarding who may open an account on behalf on an eligible individual:

  • A person selected by the eligible individual.
  • An agent under a power of attorney, conservator, or legal guardian.
  • A spouse, parent, sibling, or grandparent.
  • A representative payee (individual or organization).

An account opened by a representative payee that we appoint must meet all of the Social Security account rules and requirements.

ABLE accounts promote independence for people with disabilities. Please review the ABLE National Resource Center summary to read more highlights from the final regulations.

There are 45 ABLE plans available and their savings/investment limits range from $235,000 to $529,000. To learn about ABLE accounts and the ABLE plans available to choose from, please visit the ABLE National Resource Center at www.ablenrc.org, managed by the National Disability Institute.


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About the Author

Miranda Kennedy, Director, and Marlene Ulisky, Social Security Subject Matter Expert, ABLE National Resource Center

Miranda Kennedy, Director, and Marlene Ulisky, Social Security Subject Matter Expert, ABLE National Resource Center

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  1. Mary Ellen Dunlap

    i am 76 and have an IHSS provider. I have several ongoing conditions preventing me from being totally independent. I’m disabled physically but not formally acknowledged through SSI. I am on medicare/medicaid. Do I qualify for this program?

    Reply
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  3. Linda Hale

    My husband,Douglas V Hale, hasvCharcot Marie Tooth disorder. His ankles and feet have no feeling in them causing problems walking and he falls a lot and has constant sores on his feet. Recently he had infection form in the bones of his feet and I had to give him 16 shots per day. He should be considered disabled. Is he? What do we have to do to “register” him as disabled?

    Reply
    • Sue

      We’re sorry to hear about your husband’s condition, Linda. We pay disability benefits through two programs: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSI is a needs-based program that provides cash assistance to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. Also, SSI benefits are payable to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits.

      To qualify for SSDI, your husband must have worked long enough–and recently enough–under Social Security. Generally speaking, he needs to have 40 credits, 20 of which he earned within the last 10 years before he become disabled and unable to work. To determine if he is insured for SSDI, he can view his Social Security Statement using his my Social Security account. He can apply for benefits online or over the telephone. To find the phone number for your local Social Security office, use our Office Locator. He would need to schedule a telephone appointment.

      We would consider your husband disabled under Social Security rules if:
      • He cannot do work that he did before;
      • We decide that he cannot adjust to other work because of his medical condition(s); and
      • His disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

      Check out our Disability web page for more details. We hope this is helpful.

      Reply
    • Bree

      Hi if u have a computer you can apply for disability online . If he has primary care provider or a doctor that he deals with on a daily basis or a monthly basis because of his condition he will need to fill out the proper paperwork in order to have the application go through and then review it that’s the most important thing with disability is the paperwork that is filled out by the doctor as long as the doctor feels that he is disabled and can’t work then you usually get approved now I got turned down twice I’ve had three back surgeries I had diabetes high blood pressure neuropathy fibromyalgia and I was way overweight and I had something called sarcoidosis and just on my back surgeries alone my back problems alone they approved me but it was because of the doctors and the way they described my pain daily and my limits so just go online print out that application or you can actually do it online and e-file it like send it through the computer but I would actually go print the papers out and get those papers to the doctor as quick as possible i put my application in April I was approved and had my disability by November but if you don’t know how to do the application online just have a family member do it it’s a lot easier and a lot faster and it’s this website just go to disability application

      Reply
  4. Myra Sullivan

    I will soon be selling a house that I inherited from my mother eight
    years ago. Until now, we used it as a rental property and money earned helped to care for my 84 yr old mother and me. After having renters destroy the house and being faced with repeated repairs, we finally decided to sell. The house is in my name and has been for about 8 yrs. I receive a Social Security Disability check. My question is this: How do I handle this money in a way as to prevent the possibility of adversely effecting my eligibility status with Social Security Disability?

    Reply
  5. Lakeisha M Gates

    How do I get a appointment with a judge and my doctor for my social security

    Reply
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    • Vonda

      Hi Lakeisha, thanks for using our blog. Check out our Hearings and Appeals web page for details on how to contact your local Hearing office. We hope this helps!

      Reply
  6. JH

    Recently moved to lafayette IN..the ss offuce employees are discouraging to certain people .others dont have problems. Rewyested appointment to hear bout programs they respond walk in. Disabled however. I need help please callb765 274-9653.duscriminate here covid testing elderly urgent care in WL gor st franscian hospital doctits referral..l.need hel plesse call for my story. Ss office workers in lafayette need to be fired. Wrong info to peoplebof color setbu up to fail..IRS also charging my benefits for income tax due today 269.00 hiw fare them..Only in Lafayette IN. HELP

    Reply
  7. JK

    How do u get IRS whi offering these programs ABLE off your back taxing your benefits
    POTUS dont pay as much taxes they taxing me for..us IRS..biased. Contact

    Reply
  8. Peter J. Forbes

    Why isn’t anyone DOING ANYTHING about the $3400.00 that was stolen from me through the SSA website in Aug & Sep 2019?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      For your security, Peter, 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 call 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.

      Reply

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