The February 2018 issue of our AchievABLE Newsletter contains stories on the following:
- Changes on the Horizon for ABLE in 2018
- New Mexico Launches ABLE Program
- ABLE National Resource Center Announces “ABLE Case Summary Series”
- Webinar Archive Now Available: Changes to ABLE
- ABLE National Resource Center Seeks ABLE Account Owners for Advisory Group
- Upcoming Webinar: Understanding ABLE Program Disclosure Documents
Changes on the Horizon for ABLE in 2018
2018 promises to be another exciting year for ABLE. In addition to the expected launch of several more ABLE programs across the country, there will also be other significant changes to ABLE that have either already taken place as of January 1, 2018, or that will be implemented over the course of this year.
Below is a brief summary of some of the more significant changes that you can expect in 2018:
Annual Contribution Limit: The annual contribution limit is periodically adjusted for inflation. As a result, for the 2018 tax year, the annual contribution is set at $15,000 (previously $14,000).
Saver’s Tax Credit: ABLE account owners who choose to contribute into their own ABLE account, as opposed to just contributions made by outside contributors, such as friends and family, may now be eligible to take advantage of the Retirement Savings Contributions Tax Credit (otherwise known as the Saver’s Credit).
- There are additional requirements that must be met in order to qualify for the Saver’s Credit.
- This is a non-refundable credit.
ABLE Financial Planning Act: Provided that the beneficiary is the same individual on both accounts (or a family member of the 529 College Savings account beneficiary as defined in the law), it is now allowable to transfer funds in a 529 college savings account to an ABLE account without incurring any tax or penalty.
- The funds rolled over from the 529 college savings account to an ABLE account are subject to the annual contribution limit and thus capped at $15,000 for any given tax year (provided that no other contributions into the account have been made during that tax year).
ABLE to Work Act: ABLE account owners who have employment may be eligible to contribute above the $15,000 annual contribution limit (possibly up to an additional $12,060 depending on the gross income of the account owner). The contributions above the $15,000 annual contribution limit would be limited to contributions made specifically by the account owner into their ABLE account.
- Questions remain about aspects of the provision relating to these increased contributions and may require guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
The ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) will be closely monitoring these changes to ensure that they are implemented in a manner that provides maximum benefit to individuals with disabilities and their families.
New Mexico Launches ABLE Program
The ABLE National Resource Center, managed by National Disability Institute (NDI), is excited to congratulate the State of New Mexico on becoming the 30th state to launch an ABLE program. The New Mexico ABLE program, named ABLE New Mexico, will be administered through a partnership with Ohio STABLE Accounts, which are backed by Intuition ABLE Solutions, LLC, and will be managed by Vanguard Group, Inc. and Fifth Third Bank. New Mexico STABLE Accounts will only be available to eligible New Mexico residents with disabilities.
New Mexico ABLE allows qualified individuals with disabilities to save up to $15,000 a year in an ABLE account without jeopardizing their eligibility for federally-funded means-tested benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. The funds in the account can be used for disability-related expenses that assist the beneficiary in increasing and/or maintaining his or her health, independence or quality of life.
Millions of individuals with disabilities and their families are often relegated to a life of poverty as a result of not being allowed to build even the most modest levels of financial resources. Individuals receiving supports through Social Security, Medicaid and other publicly-funded programs are often disqualified from those supports if they have more than $2,000 worth of resources or assets. Now, with the launch of ABLE programs nationwide, individuals with disabilities and their families will be able to take a step to better secure their financial futures and to help offset the often significant financial challenges that can accompany living with a disability.
Like other ABLE programs across the country, the New Mexico ABLE program focuses its efforts to ensure minimal costs associated with establishing and maintaining an ABLE account (which can be completed online). The New Mexico ABLE program has an annual account fee of $42, charged on a monthly basis. Fees associated with investment options range from 0.19% – 0.34%.
In addition to New Mexico ABLE, there are 29 other states and DC, that have launched ABLE programs: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia. Most of these ABLE programs are open for enrollment by eligible individuals nationwide. Please see .ablenrc.org for details about these programs.
For more information on the New Mexico ABLE program and how to enroll, please visit ablenewmexico.com.
ABLE National Resource Center Announces “ABLE Case Summary Series”
The ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) is pleased to launch our “ABLE Case Summary Series”. These case profiles articulate and illustrates ways to benefit from an ABLE account that complement continued eligibility for selected public benefits and programs and/or use of special needs trusts. These ABLE Case Summaries will be released periodically throughout 2018, one every other month starting in January. The purpose of this series is to help ABLE related stakeholder, including current and future account holders, better understand the possibilities of an ABLE account complementing other strategies to improve health, independence and quality of life.
The author of the series, James R. Sheldon, has been the Supervising Attorney of the Disability Law Unit of Neighborhood Legal Services (NLS) in Buffalo, New York since the mid-1980s. He has extensive expertise related to Social Security and SSI disability, Medicaid, Medicare, special education, vocational rehabilitation, and a range of other disability-related issues. Over his career, Mr. Sheldon has written extensively on this topic of expertise, with more than 75 newsletters and policy briefs authored or co-authored, including a 2017 15-page article on ABLE accounts.
Webinar Archive Now Available: Changes to ABLE
A recording of January’s webinar “Changes to ABLE in 2018” is now available.
ABLE National Resource Center Seeks ABLE Account Owners for Advisory Group
The ABLE National Resource Center, a collective group of leading, national disability organizations united to help realize the promise of the ABLE Act, seeks to identify up to eight ABLE account owners to participate as an Advisor Group to the Center. We are looking for parents and working-age adults with disabilities that represent a diversity of experiences in terms of their reasons for opening an account, their short and long term financial goals related to the account, and how they hope the account will help them increase their health, independence, and/or quality of life. We are also looking for diversity represented by selection and participation in different state ABLE programs, type of disability, age, gender, race and ethnicity.
Role as Advisor
An Advisor must be comfortable with the Center sharing the Advisor’s ongoing experience as an ABLE account owner with the public through various platforms, including the Center’s social media platforms and the Center’s website. Additionally, we will convene the Advisors, via conference call, six times per year to collect constructive suggestions related to:
- the Advisor’s on-going personal experience with their ABLE account
- education and outreach strategies
- critical knowledge and skillsets to become ABLE-ready to open an account and grow and manage an account
- webinar and short video topics
- future needed policy development
- peer to peer support strategies
- needed information and resource materials to help individuals and families make informed decisions
- needed advice from federal agencies
- other ways the Center can continue to provide a leadership role on ABLE implementation.
Outcomes to be Achieved
Advisors selected will help:
- put a human face on the ABLE experience by sharing personal stories
- extend the leadership and effectiveness of the Center to meet the information needs of potential and current ABLE account owners
- define the next generation of activities of the Center that supports growth of the number of opened accounts and the effective management of accounts to meet individual needs.
- Send us a picture of you, your family and tell us about your circle of support.
- Tell us why you opened an ABLE account and what do you hope to accomplish (which state, how long an account owner).
- What are the reasons you would be an excellent advisor to the ABLE National Resource Center? (your strengths, current use of Center resources)
- What else should we know about your background and experiences that would support your selection?
ABLE advisors will receive a $500 contribution to their ABLE account at the end of the year, based on full participation in the Advisor program (all meetings, regularly scheduled interviews, submission of pictures that will be used to define the ABLE experience).
We look forward to your application. Finalists will be interviewed by Center staff and selections made by the end of February.
Upcoming Webinar: Understanding ABLE Program Disclosure Documents
With over 30 ABLE programs to choose from, it is important to fully understand the various characteristics of each program in order to be able to decide which program best meets your particular needs. Each ABLE program is required to provide an ABLE Program Disclosure document that describes its ABLE program in great detail. This document provides a comprehensive description of the given program and will include important information such as fees associated with that program, investment options, inclusion of debit card option, possible state tax benefits, and other details that a potential ABLE account owner will want to be familiar with and understand.
The purpose of this webinar is to help ABLE-related stakeholders become familiar and comfortable with ABLE Program Disclosure documents. During the webinar we will specifically focus on answering the following questions:
- What is a Disclosure document and why are they important?
- Where can I find a State’s ABLE Program Disclosure document?
- What type of information should I be looking for when reading an ABLE Program Disclosure document?
- How might one ABLE Program Disclosure document be different from another, and why?