First ABLE Accounts Expected This Summer
A year and a half after legislation paved the way for people with disabilities to save without jeopardizing their government benefits, the first accounts are poised to become available.
A handful of states are expected to open their so-called ABLE programs this summer.
Nebraska is the first to announce a launch date — June 30 — though advocates say that Ohio could offer its accounts even sooner. Both programs will be available to accountholders nationwide.
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The new offering was created by the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act, which became law in 2014. It allows people with disabilities to save up to $100,000 in a special account without risking their Social Security and other government benefits. Medicaid can be retained no matter how much is deposited in the accounts.
However, before members of the public could open the new accounts, states had to pass their own legislation and establish regulations for the new savings vehicle.
In addition to Nebraska and Ohio, advocates say that Virginia and Florida are also expected to launch ABLE programs this year, though Florida accounts will be restricted to residents of that state.
“It’s exciting that after working on this legislation for 10 years that individuals with Down syndrome and other disabilities will be able to open accounts as soon as next month,” said Sara Hart Weir, president of the National Down Syndrome Society.
Each state program is expected to be somewhat different, meaning that some could be more advantageous than others depending on where a person lives or what stage of life they are at, Weir said.
“For some families, it might make sense to open an account in Ohio, Virginia or Nebraska and then later roll it over into an account in your home state or elsewhere,” she added.
People with disabilities will be able to use money saved in the accounts to pay for education, health care, transportation, housing and other expenses. Interest earned on savings in the accounts will be tax-free.
An individual must have a disability that originated before the age of 26 to be eligible for an ABLE account.