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10 Things to know about the ABLE Act

10 Things to Know About the ABLE Act


December 17, 2014

The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act won final Congressional approval yesterday in the Senate on a 76-16 vote. It now heads to President Obama for his signature. The vote culminated an eight-year campaign to gain Congressional approval for tax-free savings accounts to help individuals and families finance their long-term disability needs.

What’s next for ABLE and how does it affect you? Stuart Spielman, Senior Policy Advisor at Autism Speaks, answered questions about this important piece of legislation and what it means for the disabilities community.

1. Briefly explain the ABLE Act and why it is so important?

The ABLE Act allows people with disabilities and their families to set up a special savings account for disability-related expenses. Earnings on an ABLE account would not be taxed, and account funds would generally not be considered for the supplemental security income (SSI) program, Medicaid, and other federal means-tested benefits.

2. How does this differ from current law?

Current law makes savings for disability-related expenses difficult. Individuals and families can face the loss of federal benefits if savings exceed certain limits.

3. Once signed into law by President Obama, how soon would people be able to set-up ABLE accounts?

Possibly in 2015. Before accounts can be set up, regulations will have to be written and ABLE programs established in states.

4. Who is eligible for an ABLE account?

An eligible individual is someone who becomes disabled before age 26 and (1) receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or SSI; or (2) files a disability certification under rules that the IRS will write.

5. What are the disability expenses covered under ABLE?

Expenses made for the benefit of a disabled individual for education; housing; transportation; employment training and support; assistive technology and personal support services; health, prevention, and wellness; financial management and administrative services; legal fees; expenses for oversight and monitoring; funeral and burial expenses; and any other expenses approved under regulations.

6. Does having an ABLE account affect Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?

Only if the ABLE account exceeds $100,000. SSI benefits would be suspended but not terminated. In other words, the beneficiary of the account would not receive a check but would retain eligibility for the SSI program.

7. Does it impact Medicaid eligibility?


8. Would ABLE regulations differ in each state?

Maybe. Although federal law applies uniformly to all states, individual states may regulate ABLE accounts differently. Under current law, states provide different tax benefits for college savings accounts, which are similar to ABLE accounts.

9. Are there age requirements for an individual to open an ABLE account?

No, except that an eligible individual is someone who becomes disabled before age 26.

10. Where can people go to learn more?

Read more about the legislation here and check back with Autism Speaks. We will provide updates as they become available.

Explore more:Advocacy ABLE able act Individuals with Disabilities Act tax-free savings

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