On December 19th, 2019, the Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) will be five years old. Why are we excited? Because this five-year-old has influenced 41,000 people to open ABLE accounts that can earn tax-free income.
The ABLE Act allows an estimated eight million Americans with disabilities to save money for qualified disability expenses for their short-term needs and long-term future. ABLE account holders can use the funds for qualified disability-related expenses including housing and maintenance, as well as costs related to employment, transportation, health, technology and financial and benefits planning.
Forty-two states and the District of Columbia have ABLE programs. Even if your state hasn’t established an ABLE program, you can enroll in any state’s program, if they accept out-of-state residents, which many do. State ABLE programs are managing more than $220 million in savings and investment accounts.
These ABLE savings accounts will largely not affect your eligibility for Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI), Medicaid and other public benefits. ABLE account owners, who are SSI beneficiaries, are no longer stuck in a life of poverty or have to face the $2,000 asset limit and be disqualified from receiving SSI benefits.
Beginning last year, the ABLE National Resource Center (ABLE NRC) established its national ABLE Ambassadors to help millions of ABLE-eligible individuals and families learn that there are ABLE account holders very similar to them. And ABLE accounts grew by almost 17 percent in the fourth quarter last year, while assets under management grew by 19 percent for the same period.
To learn about ABLE accounts and state ABLE programs, please visit the ABLE NRC at www.ablenrc.org, which is managed by the National Disability Institute. The website has information on how to become ABLE ready, a state ABLE program comparison tool and guidance on setting short- and long-term financial goals. More than one million individuals took advantage of the resources on the ABLE NRC website last year. To receive updates on the #ABLEtoSave campaign in August, sign up for the ABLE NRC listserv.
The ABLE program should not be the best-kept secret in the disability community. Help spread the word!
Michael Morris is a recognized leader on disability public policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in and outside of government working to improve the lives of people with disabilities.
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.