ABLE Account Decision Guide Series

Determining Whether Something is a Qualified Disability Expense (QDE)

Assistive Technology (AT) as a QDE

An AT device is any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. An AT service is any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition or use of an AT device. Importantly, the AT service category includes evaluations to identify the appropriate AT for the individual and training for the user of the AT or those who work with the user (parent, teacher, service provider) on how to use the AT device. 29 US Code 3002(4) & (5). The federal policies for special education and state VR agencies use the AT Act’s definitions for AT device and service. Note: AT needs associated with COVID-19: laptops, computers, internet hot spots may be covered by a local Center for Independent Living until September 2021:

→If AT device likely available through public benefit programs:  Look first for benefit program to fund item.

Speech generating device (SGD): as durable medical equipment (Medicaid, Medicare); to benefit from public school education (special education program); to support a vocational goal (state VR agency).

→If AT less likely available through public benefit programs:  Strong case to use ABLE to fund item.

Medicaid and Medicare may not fund speech generating device (SGD) if it is a laptop or tablet that can be used for personal computing in addition to speech generation. Special education program may fund the tablet used as an SGD, but in most school districts the student will not own it and it stays with school when graduates.

An ABLE account may be used in to pay for an assistive technology loan. There are Alternative Financing Programs (AFP) that offer favorable lending terms and affordable interest rates that may save a borrower significant money in interest and fees; refinancing options may be available too. The AFP loans may also be a way for an ABLE account owner to develop or improve their credit. Assistive Technology includes computers, hearing and vision aids, laptops, smart home technology, home modification, vehicle modification, etc. Find a program near you:

↵ restart

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.