States Band Together On ABLE Accounts
Several states say they will join forces in an effort to offer new accounts that will allow people with disabilities to save money without risking their government benefits.
Nine states have formed a consortium as they work to make accounts created under the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act available to the public.
ABLE accounts will allow people with disabilities to save up to $100,000 without losing Social Security and other government benefits. Deposits of any amount in the accounts also will not affect eligibility for Medicaid.
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Though ABLE accounts were authorized with federal passage of the ABLE Act in 2014, each state has to approve their own legislation and create regulations before offering them.
To date, 40 states and Washington, D.C. have approved legislation to create ABLE accounts, according to the National Down Syndrome Society, but no state has made the program available to consumers yet.
By uniting in the consortium, state officials say they will be able to attract better quality investment products at lower cost. The states plan to work together to offer investment options, but each will operate its own ABLE program.
So far, Alaska, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island are committed to participating in the consortium, though other states are said to be considering joining. Together, the states say they will leverage the potential of over 47 million residents.
Without such a consortium, backers say that each state by itself would likely have too few people eligible for ABLE accounts to attract the best offerings.
“By working together with other states, we can accomplish what would be impossible if we were to go it alone,” said Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs.
Once ABLE programs start becoming available, a tweak to federal law earlier this year will allow individuals with disabilities to open accounts through any state program no matter where they live.
Eligibility for ABLE accounts is limited to those with 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.