For parents of children with disabilities, tax-free Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts can be an invaluable tool for helping those kids live to the fullest later in life, according to money expert Clark Howard.
In this article, we’ll explain how ABLE accounts work and how best to take advantage of them.
Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Accounts
Similar to 529 plans, ABLE accounts are administered by the states and you can participate in most other states’ plans regardless of where you live. You may, however, get a tax benefit for participating in your state’s plan.
What Does an ABLE Plan Allow You To Do?
Participating in an ABLE plan allows you to save money tax-free and spend it tax-free on your child’s qualified disability-related expenses, including school tuition, housing, transportation, job training and more.
“ABLE plans are usually of most interest to people who are older parents and worry about where money will come from and who will provide care for your child when you’re not with us anymore,” money expert Clark Howard says.
How Do I Know if My Child Qualifies?
To qualify for participation, your child needs to have a diagnosable disability before age 26 that is expected to last 12 consecutive months or longer. Your child must also be receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability (SSDI).
What Are the Annual Contribution Limits?
The annual contribution limits for 2023 are set at $17,000, the same limit as the gift tax in 2023.
Setting the bar at $17,000 for the year effectively removes the barriers that existed before. Previously, disabled people risked losing out on government programs if their monthly income exceeded $700 or they had savings and other assets valued at more than $2,000.
Are There Any State Caps?
Certain states will cap lifetime ABLE contributions at $300,000, according to SavingforCollege.com. But there’s an earlier mile marker to take note of before you reach that goal: When your child’s ABLE account balance is $100,000, he or she can no longer receive SSI benefits.
If you’ve already saved money for your child in a traditional 529 plan prior to a disability diagnosis, you can roll that money into an ABLE account if your child has a disability that manifests after they’re well into their school years — a later autism diagnosis, for example.
State Plan Links for ABLE Accounts
Here’s a list of states with ABLE plans, courtesy of SavingforCollege.com:
Obviously, there are a lot of variables at play when it comes to ABLE accounts, so if you have further questions you can get more information from the Social Security Administration here.