ARKANSAS ABLE - Achieving a Better Life Experience
A program administered by the Treasurer of State’s office.
What is an ABLE account?
ABLE Accounts are tax-advantaged investment accounts that help qualified individuals with disabilities and their families save for disability-related expenses. Anyone can contribute to an individual’s ABLE account, up to $14,000 in any given tax year. Additionally, the funds in the account are not taken into consideration when determining eligibility for federally-funded benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.
Why the need for ABLE accounts?
Millions of individuals with disabilities and their families depend on a wide variety of public benefits for income, health care, food and housing assistance. Eligibility for many of these public benefits (SSI, SNAP, Medicaid) require meeting a means or resource test that limits eligibility to individuals to report more than $2,000 in cash savings, retirement funds and other items of significant value. To remain eligible for these public benefits, an individual must remain poor. For the first time in public policy, the ABLE Act recognizes the extra and significant costs of living with a disability and provides a savings tool to address it.
Who is eligible to open an ABLE account?
The ABLE Act limits eligibility to individuals with significant disabilities with an age of onset of disability before the age of 26. If you meet the age criteria and are also receiving benefits already under SSI and/or SSDI, you are automatically eligible to establish an ABLE account. If you are not a recipient of SSI and/or SSDI, but still meet the age of onset disability requirement, you could still be eligible to open an ABLE account if you meet Social Security’s definition and criteria regarding significant functional limitations and receive a letter of certification from a licensed physician. You need not be under the age of 26 to be eligible for an ABLE account. You could be over the age of 26, but must have had an age of onset before your 26th birthday.
What can the funds in the ABLE account be used for?
Funds in the account can be used to purchase “qualified disability-related expenses.” A “qualified disability expense” is any expense related to the designated beneficiary’s blindness or disability that assists him/her in increasing and/or maintaining their health, independence and/or quality of life. These may include expenses related to education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology, personal support services, health care expenses, financial management, administrative services or other expenses.
What happens to the funds in the ABLE account if the beneficiary passes away?
Upon the death of the beneficiary, the state in which the beneficiary lived may file a claim to all or a portion of the funds in the account equal to the amount in which the state spent on the beneficiary through their state Medicaid program. This is commonly known as the “Medicaid Payback” provision and the claim could recoup Medicaid-related expenses from the time the account was opened.
The ABLE National Resource Center (ABLR NRC)
The ABLE National Resource Center (ABLR NRC) is the leading, comprehensive source of objective, independent information about federal- and state-related ABLE programs and activities, including guidance on tax-advantaged ABLE savings accounts. Our mission is to educate, promote and support the positive impact ABLE can make on the lives of millions of Americans with disabilities and their families. ABLE NRC is a collaborative that brings together the investment, support and resources of some of the country’s largest and most influential national disability organizations in an effort to accelerate the design and availability of ABLE accounts to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities and their families.
History of the ABLE Act
The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2013 (S. 313/H.R.647) was introduced in the 113th Congress by a bipartisan group of Congressional Champions that included Sens. Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC), and Reps. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Pete Sessions (R-TX).
On December 3, 2014, the ABLE Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives (404-17). Two weeks later, on December 16, the U.S. Senate voted to pass the ABLE Act as a part of the Tax Extenders package, a group of more than 50 tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013. On Friday, December 19, 2014, President Barack Obama signed the Tax Extenders package, making the ABLE Act the law of the land.
The ABLE Act amends Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. By making tax-free savings accounts available to cover qualified disability-related expenses (including education, housing and transportation), this law aims to ease financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities. Additionally, the funds contributed into these accounts will not negatively impact the person’s eligibility for public benefits, such as Medicaid. The funds in these accounts don’t replace benefits provided through private insurances, the Medicaid program, the Supplemental Security Income program, the beneficiary’s employment and other sources. Instead, the funds supplement these benefits.
Use the links below to view the legislative summary of H.R. 647:
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