Over more than two decades, we at Milestone have worked with many families to utilize tools that ensure lifelong stability for a person with special needs. It’s never a one-size-fits-all approach. Still, time and again we find that ABLE accounts, whether used alone or in conjunction with special needs trusts, are widely helpful in complying with government benefits and planning for future financial security.
Still, only a fraction of people who are eligible for ABLE accounts are using them, according to a recent article in the New York Times.
What Is an ABLE Account?
The inception of ABLE accounts came with the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. This act allows qualified individuals and/or their families to create an ABLE savings account without impacting their eligibility for needs-based public benefits programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. An ABLE account can pay for “qualified disability expenses,” which include things like:
- Basic living expenses
- Employment training and support
- Assistive technology and related services
- Personal support services
- Financial management and administrative services
- Legal fees
- Expenses for ABLE account oversight and monitoring
- Funeral and burial
To establish an ABLE account, beneficiaries must be eligible for SSI based on a disability that began before age 26, or they must meet certain other criteria.
How Many People Have ABLE Accounts?
Michael Morris, Executive Director of the National Disability Institute, told the Times that there were more than 40,000 ABLE accounts open by the end of March 2019 with combined balances of about $225 million. That’s a small number compared to the eight million eligible people.
For an individual or family looking to put a financial plan in place, an ABLE account is a good option to consider. Talking with an expert can help weigh all available tools and come up with an individualized plan that complies with government benefits programs and ensures long-term financial security.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).