Meet our 2018 ABLE NRC Ambassadors

Al Elia

ABLE Account Owner
Washington, DC
ABLE Program: Massachusetts Attainable Program

Al is saving for retirement.


Al Elia with wife

Al Elia primarily opened his Massachusetts ABLE account as a retirement account. As an attorney with a small firm that doesn’t currently offer retirement benefits having an ABLE account effectively gives Al a private 401(k)without having to worry about penalties for early withdrawals, should a need arise. Al, who is blind, had a successful career as a software engineer prior to becoming an attorney. A fiercely independent individual, he has traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States. He can most often be found navigating the streets of Washington, D.C. with his photogenic service dog, Cheeche. Al wants to use his voice to reach the blind community and ensure that ABLE resources are accessible for these individuals. In his role as an ABLE Advisor he wants to connect with other independent individuals with disabilities who may view ABLE accounts as a tool for parents of children with disabilities to show them that ABLE accounts can be a savings vehicle for any qualified person with a disability.

Al Elia’s Highlight from the July 2018 AchievABLE Newsletter

Al Elia, a Harvard graduate and disability rights attorney, who lives and works in Washington D.C. with his wife Marlie, might not be someone you think of when you think of an ABLE account holder.

The most common reason eligible individuals with disabilities and their families open an ABLE account is to have the ability to save and invest money above the $2,000 asset limit of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid and other Social Security programs. As a result of his employment earnings, however, Al isn’t on public benefits.

Still, due to his blindness, and its onset prior to the age of 26, Al is ABLE eligible and chose to become an ABLE account owner with the Massachusetts AttainABLE program in 2017.

So why would a successful lawyer, Harvard graduate and participant in the economic mainstream set up an ABLE account?

Al became an ABLE account owner to have a tax-advantaged means of saving for retirement. Al notes that his ABLE account has an additional benefit compared with other retirement vehicles: He can access the funds in his ABLE account at any point for major life expenditures without incurring early withdrawal fees.

Because his employer does not have the resources to offer retirement benefits, Al may contribute up to an additional $12,060 per year from his earnings as ABLE savings above the $15,000 annual ABLE contribution limit.

As an ABLE Advisor, Al personifies the Advantages of ABLE for Those Not Receiving Public Benefits and was featured as a panelist during ABLE NRC’s June 2018 webinar.

Al says, “If you qualify for an ABLE account, an ABLE account is going to be useful to you. It’s not just for kids. It’s not just for people with severe disabilities that may preclude them from working. The ABLE Account will benefit you, if you take the time to set one up.”

The ABLE National Resource Center is proud to have Al as one of our 2018 ABLE Advisors.

Scroll Up