Disability, SSI

Celebrating the Fifth Anniversary of the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act

December 19, 2019 • By

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Last Updated: March 17, 2021

The National Association of State Treasurers created this guest blog 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 Association of State Treasurers or its services.

This month, marks the passage of the Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014, a law that aims to ease financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities.

How can ABLE Help?

ABLE accounts allow people with disabilities that began before age 26 to save and invest private funds without losing eligibility for essential federal government benefits programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, and housing benefits. Earnings and withdrawals on ABLE accounts are tax-free, if used for qualified disability-related expenses

ABLE accounts can help people with disabilities build financial wellness.  In the last five years, ABLE accounts have helped beneficiaries with disabilities achieve greater financial independence:

  • Since the program launched in 2016, people with disabilities and their families have saved more than $300 million to help cover disability-related expenses in ABLE plans offered by 42 states and the District of Columbia.
  • ABLE account savings are exempt from the SSI resource limit up to $100,000. When the balance exceeds that, SSI benefits are suspended until the account balance goes below $100,000.
  • ABLE account owners enjoy the convenience of checking account or debit card savings options to meet regular expenses and some owners save for a rainy day or invest for the future.

As Chairperson of the ABLE Committee of the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST), I lead a national effort to foster the growth of ABLE plans and increase access to ABLE accounts for more people with disabilities and their families.

As we celebrate this important milestone for ABLE, I invite you to learn more about the program by visiting the NAST website.




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About the Author

Michael Frerichs

Michael Frerichs is serving his second term as Treasurer of the State of Illinois and is Chair of the National Association of State Treasurers ABLE “Achieving a Better Life Experience” Committee. Under Treasurer Frerichs’ leadership, Illinois leads the National ABLE Alliance, a 17-member state consortium that represents approximately one-quarter of the ABLE-account eligible population nationwide.


  1. Carrie C.

    I am 58 and have been on SS and SSI for some time. I have been divorced since 2002 and never remarried and married him in 1978 and we had 3 sons together. He passed away June 22,2018 I don’t make much to live on and was wondering if I can also collect on his SS# My son’s talked me into trying to file this. So please let me know what I need to do next cause I’ve never done this before.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Carrie. Thanks for your question. If your marriage lasted for at least 10 years, your may be eligible for surviving divorced spouse benefits based on your ex-husband’s earnings, beginning at age 60. If you are disabled, you could begin receiving benefits as early as age 50 if the disability started before or within 7 years of your ex-husband’s death. For additional information on Survivor benefits, check out our Survivors Planner. For specific questions, please call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. Generally, you will have a shorter wait if you call later in the day. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

  2. Susan H.

    Website links screwy or website isn’t being maintained!
    Today’s holiday email has a link to a blog, where a timely story (12/2019) appears about the 5th anniversary of ABLE, but below that are links to No COLA increase in 2016 & An Increase in Social Security Benefits In 2017. I’m pretty sure that I used other links that were in the ABLE article that also brought me to historical (not current) imfo

  3. Geri

    Is there a similar program for adults who became disabled after the age of 26?

  4. Kimberly B.

    Thank you for your vision & getting this program established.
    I understan there is legislation proposed to get the age limit for ABLE NOW accounts raised to 45.
    Can you tell me what the status of the proposed new legislation? Where is it? Is there a chance of it being voted on in the near future? Will we be notified of any changes/new legislation? How can we be notified of nee/any changes in the Able Now acvounts?
    Thank you for your help & all you do.
    You are greatly appreciated!

  5. Nehmat b.

    Hello Iam a lady 68 years old , citizen have no Medicaid , I didn’t work since I came to the States and didn’t pay taxes, Am I eligible to Medicaid ? I live with my son and his family.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Nehmat. To apply for Medicaid or to request more information about Medicaid, you will need to call your state medical assistance office. To get the local phone number, call the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at 1-800-633-4227 (TTY, 1-877-486-2048). Thanks!

  6. Mr T.

    My received your ssa reports for ssi account issued pay for my benefits of retirement plan.gov!and how ssa income do not including another income program?but my time due for run my benefits of retirement plan.gov ! Now my claim in Thailand overseas

  7. Janice J.

    I would like to participate in ABLE

  8. J. N.

    Well, since my disabling disease was not diagnosed until I was 39, this is worthless to me. No matter that symptoms began about 15 years before that, I did not have a doctor informed enough to do the proper tests until it was too late to join such a savings program. How many millions of others fall into such a category (pit)? of uninformed physicians. Many disabling diseases begin long before a diagnosis is made. So, while this certainly sounds like a wonderful program, it is probably most useful for publicity. Look, what a great thing we have done? I will not discount the benefit for children born with a clear disability. Hopefully it is publicized well enough to benefit those families.
    But, for many whose diagnosis is made many years too late for this to be of use? Worthless.

  9. Thomas O.

    So I’m 63 ,On low in retirement SS. I’m legally blind in right eye and now I’m told I have cataract in left eye.Any financial assistance for me?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Thomas. We are sorry to hear about your condition. You may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include Medicaid, free meals, housekeeping help, transportation or help with other problems. To find out whether you may qualify and if you need to file a separate application call the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at 1-800-633-4227 (TTY, 1-877-486-2048). You also can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services or welfare office. We hope this helps!

  10. Christopher J.

    How do I start

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