Thursday, March 4, 2021
These special accounts are called Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts. These types of special savings accounts were introduced in 2016 as a vehicle for people with disabilities to achieve "greater financial security and more independence."
By using ABLE accounts, disabled people "can save money in the tax-favored accounts without risking the loss of need-based government benefits, like health insurance or supplemental income."
As of now, 43 states and Washington D.C. offer ABLE. Although these special accounts have been around for a few years, interest in the accounts as grown exponentially due to federal pandemic relief putting more cash in people's hands. ABLE advocates have begun to "spread the word" about the usefulness of saving some or all of stimulus check funds in these special accounts.
Here are a few incentives, or benefits, of taking advantage of ABLE accounts by placing stimulus aid funds in them.
- People with disabilities often struggle financially and rely on federal aid, and cannot qualify for Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income if they have more than $2,000 in savings or other assets. These accounts help low-income disable people avoid this detriment.
- Stimulus payments are not considered income, meaning you can spend the money how you please. However, if the money isn't spent within 12 months, it will be counted against asset limits and could disqualify disabled people from benefits. If this money is deposited in an ABLE account, it will not be considered when counting toward the $2,000 cap.
- Disabled people can also used the ABLE accounts to save towards an apartment or a wheelchair-accessible car, not to mention many other necessities.
In general, despite the low popularity of ABLE accounts in the last few years, they are becoming more and more useful, especially during the pandemic.
See Ann Carns, Disabled Recipients of Stimulus Aid Are Urged to Save Some in Special Accounts, N.Y. Times, February 26, 2021.
Special thanks to Matthew Bogin, (Esq., Bogin Law) for bringing this article to my attention.