The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which was created by Congress in 2014, allows people with disabilities and their families to save up to $100,000 in accounts for the benefit of a disabled person. The funds can be saved without jeopardizing the individual’s eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and other government benefits. ABLE accounts may be opened by anyone with a disability as long as the disability began before the person turned 26.
Starting in 2018, the amount of money that can be deposited in an ABLE account per year without jeopardizing public benefits will rise from $14,000 to $15,000. The amount that can be deposited in an ABLE account is tied to the federal gift tax exclusion, which has also risen to $15,000.
Other changes to the program in 2018 include the following:
- If you have an ABLE account and you work, you can put up to an extra $12,060 of your earnings into your account (on top of the regular $15,000 that is allowed). The $12,060 must be from your own earnings – it cannot be contributions from others or money you get from benefits or other unearned income.
- Note: This means that if you earn $12,060 or more, you could have a total of up to $27,060 go into your ABLE account in a year. If you earn less than $12,060, the amount you could contribute would be lower.
- Money can be rolled over tax-free from a regular 529 college savings plan to an ABLE account. That means that money which hasn’t been or won’t be used for college can instead be used for expenses that are approved for usage from an ABLE account.
- If you have an account, you have to make sure that too much money isn’t contributed into your account (even if it is other people making the deposits).
Setting up an ABLE account is often a solid way to save money for future expenses for an individual with disabilities. As with most federal or state programs, there are intricacies in the rules that should be understood prior to establishing an account. I encourage you to seek the assistance of a qualified special needs attorney to ensure that you understand the process before tying up your funds.
If you would like to speak to an attorney about the creation of an ABLE Account or to create an ABLE account in conjunction with a Special Needs Trust for your disabled loved one, please contact the Law Office of Sheri R. Abrams at (571) 328-5795 to schedule a consultation.