Lawmakers Call For Incentives To Broaden Access To ABLE Accounts
A new proposal would offer up matching funds to encourage more people with disabilities to open special accounts that allow them to save money without jeopardizing eligibility for government benefits.
The federal government would offer a dollar-for-dollar match for new and existing ABLE accounts for people earning $28,000 or less each year under a bill recently introduced in the U.S. Senate. A similar measure has also been introduced in the House of Representatives.
ABLE accounts were established under a 2014 federal law and allow people with disabilities to save up to $100,000 without losing eligibility for Social Security and other government benefits. Medicaid can be retained no matter how much is in the accounts.
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“Over the last nine years, the ABLE program has been a lifeline for thousands of people with disabilities across the nation,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., the lead sponsor of the bill known as the ABLE MATCH, or Making ABLE A Tool to Combat Hardship, Act. “However, there are still too many people whose lives would be made easier by the program, but don’t have sufficient funds to open an account. The ABLE MATCH Act will make it easier for low-income people with disabilities to access the ABLE program, and get the benefits they need and deserve.”
Under the plan, matching funds would taper off for each dollar earned over $28,000 and the match would be limited to $2,000 per year. The figure would also be indexed for inflation and it would account for those who are married or considered a head of household.
As of June, 151,164 ABLE accounts were open nationwide with an average balance of $9,941, according to ISS Market Intelligence. Casey said that matching funds would help increase enrollment in the program while bolstering the financial situation of individuals with lower incomes.
To qualify for an ABLE account, individuals must have a disability that onset prior to age 26, but a recent change in federal law means that the age cap will rise to 46 starting in 2026. Funds saved in ABLE accounts can be used to pay for qualified disability expenses including education, health care, transportation and housing. Interest earned is tax-free.
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