New Website To Serve As ABLE Account Clearinghouse
As states prepare to offer accounts that will allow people with disabilities to save without losing government benefits, a new website is launching to help families navigate the offering.
The site from the ABLE National Resource Center is designed to be a one-stop shop for families as well as financial professionals and program administrators, organizers say, with information about laws, regulations and product offerings in each state.
Under the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act, individuals with disabilities can save up to $100,000 in special accounts without losing Social Security and other government benefits. Funds in the accounts – at any level – also will not affect eligibility for Medicaid.
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Federal passage of the ABLE Act in 2014 cleared the way for the accounts, but each state had to approve its own legislation and regulations in order to make the new offering available.
To date, 35 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation, but each are in varying stages of implementing their programs, with the first offering expected to be available as soon as this month.
Thanks to a change to federal tax law late last year, however, people with disabilities will be able to take advantage of accounts offered by any state no matter where they live. Each state program is expected to be somewhat unique meaning that one program or another could be particularly advantageous to different individuals depending on their circumstances.
That’s where the resource center could really come in handy for families as more information about each state’s ABLE program is unveiled, said Chris Rodriguez of the National Disability Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit which manages the ABLE National Resource Center.
“The site will be able to compare one program to another by using a list of 15 to 20 variables that we believe a potential beneficiary and their family would want to take into consideration when choosing a program,” Rodriguez said.
At this point, the resource center website includes information about the law, ABLE accounts, who qualifies and particulars of each state’s legislation. Rodriguez indicated that more information will be added as states begin rolling out their offerings.
Advocates say they expect that Ohio, Nebraska, Virginia, Florida and Tennessee will be among the first states to make ABLE accounts available.
In order to be eligible for an ABLE account, an individual must have a disability that originated before the age of 26. Funds in the accounts can be used to pay for education, health care, transportation, housing and other expenses. Interest earned on savings in the accounts will be tax-free.