What is an ABLE Account?

In late 2014, Congress passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which authorized states to create tax-free savings accounts that could be used to pay for disability-related expenses without affecting an individual’s eligibility for means-tested government programs. Only individuals whose disability occurred prior to their turning 26 can hold an ABLE account. Most ABLE programs allow eligible individuals to participate regardless of their state of residence.

Only one ABLE Act account can be established per individual but there is no limitation on the number of individuals who can contribute to that one account. Total contributions for the benefit of a given ABLE Act beneficiary cannot exceed $15,000 in a single year, the maximum federal gift tax exclusion ($15,000 in 20197).

If the ABLE Act account exceeds $100,000, the participant’s eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will be suspended until the ABLE account is less than $100,000. Medicaid eligibility continues until the account exceeds the limit for the College Savings 529 Plan in the state sponsoring the ABLE program ($250,000 to $450,000 in 2019).

Upon the death of an ABLE account holder, states may require reimbursement from remaining funds for Medicaid services provided to the individual after the establishment of the account. Check to see whether or not your state chooses to do so.

For a comparison of ABLE accounts with special needs trusts, click here.

If you’d like to speak with an attorney who has specialized knowledge of these issues, please use our directory to find SNA members in your state.