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Littman Krooks Special Needs Planning

ABLE Account Update

Published August 8, 2016

By Amy C. O’Hara, CELA®

New York’s Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) savings account program became effective on April 1, 2016. However, the program is not yet available for individuals with disabilities to open an account.  The program is expected to launch at the end of 2016 or in 2017.  New York’s legislature recently made some changes to the ABLE program, including clarification that only the designated beneficiary is authorized to open an account and be the account owner.

The purpose of the ABLE program is to assist individuals with disabilities with saving funds in accounts to better enhance their independence and quality of life. The program is intended to supplement, not supplant, government entitlements, such as Medicaid and SSI.  Distributions from the account can be used to pay for qualified disability expenses, including education, housing, transportation, and health.

A beneficiary is permitted to have only one account and total contributions each year cannot exceed $14,000.  If a beneficiary receives SSI, then the accumulated account value cannot exceed $100,000, otherwise the beneficiary will lose SSI.  If a beneficiary does not receive SSI, then additional contributions cannot be made once the account value reaches $375,000.  If funds remain in the account upon the beneficiary’s death, there is a required Medicaid payback if the beneficiary utilized Medicaid benefits during his or her lifetime.

If you have questions about how an ABLE account can be beneficial to you or a loved one please contact our office.

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