Question: What is an ABLE account and why is it needed?
Answer: The ABLE National Resource Center states the following about ABLE accounts: “ABLE accounts are tax-advantaged savings and investment accounts for individuals with disabilities. The individual with the disability is the account owner. The account owner, family, friends, an employer or the account owner’s Special Needs Trust (SNT) may contribute funds into the account. ABLE account owners – both those who receive and those who do not receive public benefits – may save for qualified disability expenses related to transportation, health care, housing, education, retirement and more.”
Many individuals with disabilities are dependent on public benefits for income, health care, food, and housing assistance. There are financial eligibility criteria for these programs and for some of these there are limits on what an individual can have for assets. This includes cash, savings, retirement funds, etc. An ABLE account is a protected savings account for qualified individuals. Wisconsin does not administer its own ABLE program, but residents of Wisconsin can choose to use ABLE programs in other states. Fees and rules vary across each state’s programs. The ABLE National Resource Center has a tool on their website that can be used to compare different types of ABLE accounts.
Individuals who have had a disability with an onset before the age of 26 and who are receiving SSI and/or SSDI are automatically eligible to create an ABLE account. Someone who is not receiving these two benefits, but who has had a disability since the age of 26, may qualify after meeting certain other criteria. For further information on this, you can refer to the ABLE National Resource Center website at ablenrc.org.