What is an ABLE account?
- Established in the new Section 529A Qualified ABLE Programs
- Qualified savings accounts that receive preferred federal tax treatment
- Enable eligible individuals to save for disability related expenses
- Assets in and distributions for qualified disability expenses will be disregarded or given special treatment in determining eligibility for most federal means-tested benefits
What are some important requirements of ABLE accounts?
- Each eligible individual may have only one ABLE account.
- “Designated beneficiary” is the account owner (although another person such as a parent or guardian may be allowed signature authority over the account).
- Total annual contributions may not exceed the federal gift tax contribution, which is currently $14,000 (this will periodically be adjusted for inflation).
- Multiple individuals may make contributions to an ABLE account.
- Aggregate contributions may not exceed the state limit for 529 savings accounts, typically set at over $250,000.
Who is eligible to be an ABLE account beneficiary?
To be eligible, individuals must meet the age requirement: disabled before age 26
- Severity of disability: have been determined to meet the disability requirements for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security disability benefits (Title XVI or Title II of the Social Security Act) and are receiving those benefits,
- OR submit a “disability certification” assuring that the individual holds documentation of a physician’s diagnosis and signature, and confirming that the individual meets the functional disability criteria in the ABLE Act (related to the severity of disability described in Title XVI or Title II of the Social Security Act).
What may funds from an ABLE account be used for?
- Distributions from an ABLE account may be made for “qualified disability expenses”.
- “Qualified disability expenses” are expenses that relate to the designated beneficiary’s blindness or disability and are for the benefit of that designated beneficiary in maintaining or improving his or her health, independence, or quality of life.
- The term “qualified disability expenses” should be broadly construed to permit the inclusion of basic living expenses and should not be limited to:
- Expenses for items for which there is a medical necessity, or
- Which provide no benefits to others in addition to the benefit to the eligible individual.
For more information comparing Special Needs Trusts and ABLE accounts, please click here.