Les Roberson, NENA Director
Disability Services Coordinator/TTW
Managed Career Solutions
The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, signed into law in December 2014, is designed to improve the financial stability of persons with disabilities by authorizing tax-advantaged savings account, known as ABLE accounts for both youth and adults with disabilities. These accounts are similar in construction to college savings accounts. Both are included in Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code. Assets in ABLE accounts can be used to cover any “qualified disability expense.” Qualified disability expenses can include housing, transportation, support services and any other expense reasonably related to a disability.
Anyone can contribute to an individual’s ABLE account, including the beneficiary themselves. As a result, the beneficiary could choose to deposit any of his/her paychecks into the ABLE account. The compensation contributed as a result of employment could be saved without having a detrimental effect on the person’s eligibility for government benefits.
As we know, financial insecurity and the inability for beneficiaries to save money may act as a barrier to the goals of employment and community participation for people with disabilities. Individuals who rely on Medicaid and other public funding to live and work in the community may lose access to these services if their “countable” assets exceed a certain limit. By excluding funds in an ABLE account from individuals’ “countable” assets, the ABLE Act allows persons with disabilities, who may be receiving benefits that are associated with certain types of means-testing to save money for emergencies, pay for unexpected medical services not otherwise covered. It also allows them to save for long-term investments like education or retirement and, in general, enjoy economic security not previously afforded to them. The passage of the ABLE Act reflects our society’s commitment to equal opportunity for all, including people with disabilities.