Meet our Current ABLE NRC Ambassadors

Miles Lessen

Parent of preschooler with a rare autoimmune disease and Type 1 Diabetes
Albuquerque, NM
ABLE Program: New Mexico

Provides emergency psychiatry in the local VA Hospital Emergency Department and outpatient psychiatry in a VA outpatient clinic. ABLE funds are an investment account for son’s medical, educational and investment needs.

Miles Lessen, his wife and son sitting on the ground outside with mountains behind them
Miles Lessen with wife and young son outside in front of mountain scene
Miles Lessen with wife and young son posing together outside on rocks

Miles Lessen’s Highlight from the July 2019 AchievABLE Newsletter

Miles Lessen and his wife, Maya, are the parents of four-year-old Asher. Asher loves to laugh, and he cracks jokes and plays tricks to make others laugh. Like many preschoolers, Asher loves to sing, dance and dig in the sand. He creates elaborate scenarios for play from his active imagination. He has taken to reading early and enjoys playing games that involve math concepts.

In honor of July and Autoimmune Disease Month, we are highlighting the Lessens’ story. Asher has Type 1 Diabetes and severe allergies that were caused by an incredibly rare genetic disorder called IPEX, which affects his immune system. Miles opened an ABLE account for Asher with the New Mexico ABLE program (NM ABLE) in 2018.

Miles opened Asher’s ABLE account because, “As a parent, I wanted to do everything I could for my son to give him the best chance of success for his future, especially for his medical needs. One way to do that was to create an ABLE investment account. Asher is always going to have more expenses than other people. There were no other options that would work because other options would eliminate Medicaid. ABLE opened up the opportunity for me to invest in Asher’s future while maintaining his life-preserving medical benefits.”

Living in New Mexico, the Lessens can take a state-level tax deduction for contributions into 529 College Savings Accounts, but not for contributions into  529A ABLE accounts. So, Miles is depositing the maximum that he can into Asher’s 529 College Savings Account until it reaches the limit that would preclude Asher from getting the benefits he needs. At that point, Miles will roll the 529 College Savings Account funds into Asher’s ABLE account. This maximizes the tax benefit for their family. Miles devised this strategy from the 2018 ABLE Financial Planning Act that allows 529 College Savings Accounts to be rolled over into a 529A ABLE account in increments of up to $15,000 per calendar year. *

As one of our nine 2019 ABLE National Resource Center (ABLE NRC) Ambassadors, Miles is more than Asher’s dad. He is not only his son’s biggest advocate, but also an advocate for others, many of whom may also be in a position to benefit from an ABLE account. Miles works at the Veterans Administrations (VA) Hospital providing emergency psychiatry in the Emergency Department, as well as outpatient psychiatry for acute patients. He has presented on ABLE to the Medically Fragile program, which allows kids to qualify for Medicaid despite their parents’ income. Miles is also reaching out to state legislators in New Mexico to encourage them to give the same tax benefits at the state level to ABLE accounts that they currently give to 529 College Savings Accounts.

*Changes to ABLE in 2018: 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). Changes to ABLE in 2018

2019 End-of-Year Ambassador Video