A new law gives Americans with disabilities more access to state-run accounts, which allow them to save money and not risk losing their federal disability benefits.
People with disabilities receiving need-based public assistance like Medicaid usually can’t have more that $2,000 and still be eligible for these programs. ABLE accounts, which stand for Achieving a Better Living Experience, allow individuals to save taxes on disability-related expenses while still being eligible for benefits.
Prior to the new law, ABLE accounts were only available to those with a disability that was diagnosed before 26 years of age. The ABLE Age Adjustment Act, passed December, raises the “disability onset age” to 46. This allows more than 6,000,000 people to be eligible starting in 2026.
The key takeaway:ABLE accounts allow people with disabilities to save for their own money and crowdfund, without losing their public benefits. You are likely eligible if your disability was diagnosed before 26. You could be eligible if your disability began between 26-46 years old.
How ABLE account help people with disabilities
The Catch-22 with public disability benefits is that you could lose your financial security if you put money aside to help pay for basic needs or assistive devices.
- You can deposit $17,000 per annum (or more, if you have a job), without losing your benefits. You can save as much as $100,000 without affecting Supplemental Security income, or SSI. You can also save hundreds of thousands of dollar over time, without having to affect other benefits.
- You can spend what you want independently. These expenses could include food, housing, transportation, healthcare, and any other items that improve quality of life. You can either use a prepaid or debit card (ABLE Visa Card) to access some ABLE accounts.
- Crowdfund. Crowdfund.
- Invest. Some ABLE programmes offer a variety of investment options similar to 529 college savings plans.
- Tax advantages. If you use the money for qualified expenses, money taken from an ABLE account will be exempted from tax
Who is eligible for an ABLE account
If your disability occurred before 26 years (46 beginning in 2026), and you are already receiving SSI, Social Security Disability Insurance, then you will automatically be eligible for an ABLE account.
Other ABLE eligibility information
- You don’t need to be a recipient of SSI or SSDI. If your disability-age requirements are met, Social Security’s criteria for certified functional limitations, and other conditions, you may be eligible for an ABLE account.
- There is no need to make a large contribution. Although state requirements may vary, the minimum initial deposit is usually $25 to $50.
How do I get an ABLE account
You can find a lot of information on the ABLE National Resource Center’s website, including FAQs about ABLE accounts and tips on how to start. Most ABLE accounts can be opened and managed online.
Basics: What you need to know about signing up
- State residency — Many ABLE plans let you enroll regardless of where you are located. This ABLE account comparison tool will help you to identify and compare potential providers.
- ABLE account features can vary — It’s a good idea for you to familiarize yourself with the various types of ABLE accounts and to use the map and comparison tool to help you shop.
- Learn more The ABLE National Resource Center’s ABLE facts myths page is a great way to learn about balance limits and how ABLE accounts are different from Special Needs Trusts and Pooled Income Trusts.