Disability, Guest Bloggers

ABLE Act: What You Need to Know

December 17, 2020 • By

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Last Updated: December 17, 2020

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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  1. chin w.

    Thanks for a great post, I learned a lot more
    word counter

    • Suzzy O.

      How does seniors who work and are currently collecting unemployment benefits impact eligibility for social security if they file this year at age 62?

  2. kings

    being disabled shouldnt bring you down, you have to fight the process and come out a victor.

    cheers to those who aint backing down


  3. adrian t.

    Thank you for taking the time to write to us, https://www.ctsaudepremium.com.br/

  4. Eva W.


    • Vonda

      Hi Eva, thanks for using our blog. 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.

    • Be.

      Sadly, disabled people are mostly forced to see a lawyer. Also make sure your illness is well documented by more than one doctor, with films, nerve studies, psych testing etc. including how it affects you mentally. You must be determined to be unable to hold any job at all. Not just your previous job. Good luck.

  5. Johnny J.

    My cousin does not receive SSI, but he does receive disability (DIB) benefits. However, he says his check is being reduced by $300.00 per month due to royalties from a property he owns. He receives $300.00 per month for this property. Why is that $300.00 being deducted from his Disability check. I though income and resources was not applicable DIB benefits. Cousin’s name is Johnny Jordan.

    • Vonda

      Hi Johnny, thanks for using our blog. It sounds like your cousin may be receiving SSI based on a disability. To get SSI, you must be disabled, blind, or at least 65 years old and have “limited” income and resources. Check out our Understanding SSI web page for details. Because SSI is a needs based program, a change in income and assets can affect the benefits and must be reported.

      Your cousin can call his local Social Security office with additional questions. 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.

  6. christine v.

    I am disabled and 70 years old can I apply for disability help or SSI ? Some friends think I can.

    • Sue

      Thanks for using our blog, Christine. Once a person reaches full retirement age (yours is 66) and is receiving Social Security retirement or survivors benefits, they are no longer eligible for disability benefits. However, you may want to call your local Social Security office to see if you qualify for our needs-based programs, Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs and/or Supplemental Security Income for the Aged. You can use our Office Locator to find the phone number. Please be patient as our call volume and wait times are greater than normal. We hope this information is helpful.

  7. Onderzoek

    Interesting that the original blog entry did not include the basic requirement for ABLE is that the person be determined to be disabled before age 26. The primary beneficiary of ABLE is a person born with cognitive difficulties. Also helps people who had accidents or severe illness as a young person. Allows the disabled person or any of their (wealthy) relatives to save and spend more money than people who became disabled after age 26 and not be concerned that their government benefits will be affected. ABLE does not help anyone who became disabled after age 26. People who became disabled after age 26 cannot save as much money and stay on SSI as those disabled before age 26. I think that is a pretty big distinction that should have been mentioned in the blog entry.

    The blog also mentioned that many of the people who could qualify have not yet opened an ABLE account. It is highly likely that many SSI recipients do not have discretionary funds, money left over when bills are paid and don’t have wealthy relatives that want to help them. That probably explains the limited numbers.

    • Fred K.

      I agree. The age 26 requirement is the most important criteria. Many will read this post and think they are eligible – not knowing that if you became disabled after age 26, you don’t qualify for an ABLE account. Here’s a more accurate post ABLE Account and who is eligible .

  8. Deborah P.

    I was told that too have a able account you need to prove that you have been disabled before 22? I maybe off on the years but at 63 and my Parents are still alive but won’t admit that I have been disabled all along because they think it makes them look bad and finding proof that I was in special classes for being mentally challenged is I guess the term for being ADHD with sever learning Disabilities won’t exist anymore

  9. Mahira S.

  10. Violet M.

    I fell and broke my right femur for the second time and have had three surgeries on this leg. I have not been able to put weight on it for 6/10 weeks and now using a walker only in the house. I am home bound. I am 76 years old and disabled and would like to apply for Social Security Disability. How do I do that?

    • Vonda

      Hi Violet, thanks for using our blog. We are very sorry to hear about disability. When a person has reached their full retirement age and is receiving Social Security retirement, they are no longer eligible for disability benefits. We hope this helps!

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