ABLE Account Decision Guide Series
Am I ABLE-eligible and How Do I Open an Account?
Person is eligible to open an ABLE account at any age!
Can select an appropriate ABLE plan and enroll with an initial deposit. Can then start making deposits to the account, up to annual limits, to later be used for qualified disability expenses.
Begin Process of Selecting and Opening an ABLE Account
(Click plus sign for more info.)
Before making your priority list, identify how you plan to use the ABLE account. Will it be:
- A transactional account, using it each month to pay monthly bills and make purchases that meet qualified disability expense (QDE) criteria; or
- A longer-term savings account, in which the person, for example, will save for large purchases or future expenses?
Examples of what may be important in selecting an ABLE plan:
- Is the ABLE program a “national program,” allowing people from other states to join?
- Is there a fee to open an account and, if so, what is the amount? Is a minimum contribution required to open the account?
- What investment options does the ABLE plan offer? Does it offer a safe, FDIC-insured account?
- Are there restrictions on how often funds can be withdrawn for qualified disability expenses?
- What proof, if any, does the ABLE plan require that a distribution expense meets the QDE criteria?
- Does the ABLE plan offer a “debit card/purchasing card” to pay for QDEs? Are there fees associated with use of the card?
- Does the ABLE plan offer a checking account option?
- Provides a U.S. map with ability to access information on each active state ABLE plan.
- Clicking on a state allows user to get key details for that state ABLE plan. A link is provided to the plan Disclosure Document to review detailed options, costs and other information prior to making a choice.
- When user clicks on the “Program Name” he or she is directed to the ABLE plan to open an account.
- In a search for the right plan, if the user’s state has an active ABLE plan, he or she should look for ABLE plan features that may be uniquely favorable to state residents:
- Does your state offer a state income tax deduction or credit for contributions to an ABLE account?
- Does your state offer any value-added plan elements (e.g., a match or rewards program, financial literacy courses, or a financial advisor)?
- Allows user to compare 11 key features for any three state ABLE programs side by side.
- Gives side-by-side comparison for the three state plans selected.
- User can click on “Learn More” under a selected state to get key details for that state’s ABLE plan. When you click on the “Plan Name” you are directed to the ABLE plan to open an account. If your state has an active ABLE plan, you may want to start with your state listed, as one of the three states for comparison.
- Allows user to select up to five ABLE plan features and, listing your home state (or any other state), provides the user with both a displayed chart and two separate Excel (“csv”) files to compare state plan features.
- In the displayed chart, the home state (or selected state) will appear first followed by any other states that have at least one of the selected features.
- In the displayed chart, click on “Learn More” under a selected state to get key details for that state ABLE plan.
- On the state plan’s details page, when you click on the “Program Name” you are directed to the ABLE program to open an account.
Select an ABLE Plan and Complete the Enrollment Process
- All ABLE plans will allow for online enrollment. All enrollment is done through the ABLE plan website. If the person does not have a computer with internet access, identify a family member, friend or service provider to help with ABLE plan enrollment on their computer.
- Contact the ABLE plan of your choice to learn of alternative ways to open an ABLE account.
- If a person who is ABLE-eligible (whether a minor or adult) is unable to open their own ABLE account, an ABLE account may be established on behalf of the person by the person’s agent under a power of attorney or, if none, by a conservator or legal guardian, spouse, parent, sibling, grandparent of the eligible individual or a representative payee appointed for the eligible person by the Social Security Administration (SSA), in that order. A representative payee is subject to all applicable SSA policy rules governing conservation of funds.
Note: Our ABLE Decision Guide Series is designed as an aid to decision making as it relates to establishing and using an ABLE account. This document does not cover every possible issue related to the topic and is not a substitute to more in-depth analysis that may be required in some cases.