ABLE Accounts Get Green Light In First State
Three months after federal law established a new way for people with disabilities to save without jeopardizing their government benefits, the legislative hurdles are over in one state.
Virginia became the first state to approve legislation related to the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act, when Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill this week allowing for the new savings vehicle.
Under federal law, the ABLE Act allows people with disabilities to open special accounts where they can save up to $100,000 without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government programs. However, states must put regulations in place before financial institutions can begin offering the accounts.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
In addition to Virginia, legislatures in West Virginia and Utah have sent ABLE bills to their governors. What’s more, legislation is under consideration in 29 other states and draft bills are in the works in another seven, according to Heather Sachs, director of state government affairs for the National Down Syndrome Society.
Sachs said there is “special significance” in the fact that Virginia was the first to approve the ABLE Act since the idea for the bill was born out of a kitchen-table conversation among a group of parents in the state.
“So far we’ve seen a lot of legislative victories and we expect more as the weeks go by,” Sachs said.
Even after legislation is approved, however, state governments and the financial industry are likely to need time to set up the new offerings before they are available to consumers and some states are further along than others in hammering out the behind-the-scenes details. Accordingly, advocates say, the first states to enact ABLE legislation may not be the first to offer accounts.
Sachs said she expects it will be at least late this year but more likely 2016 or 2017 before people with disabilities can begin opening ABLE accounts.
Currently, ABLE legislation is under consideration in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Washington.