The Fall issue of our AchievABLE™ Newsletter contains stories on the following:
- National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)
- Join us for “Ready and ABLE to Work and Save: A 2-Part Online Event
- Follow ABLE NRC on social media during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in October
- Top 3 ABLE Employment-Related Questions
- Credit Score Support: NDI’s Financial Resilience Center and Experian
- Advancing ABLE
In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in October, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has released an animated online video that explores the spirit of NDEAM and ways you can celebrate. The video appears on ODEP’s NDEAM website along with other outreach tools tied to this year’s theme “Advancing Access and Equity.” These include the 2023 NDEAM poster, key messages, and social media graphics for individuals and organizations to incorporate into their NDEAM observances.
The ABLE National Resource Center and ACCSES are joined by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission in presenting the two-part “Ready and ABLE to Work and Save” online event in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).
This series is designed to increase employers’ and service providers’ understanding of the important role that ABLE accounts can play in supporting the employment and financial stability of working-age people with disabilities and their families. We will provide key updates on ABLE and share strategies and tools for employers and service providers to use moving forward.
Tuesday, October 17th from 2-3:30pm ET
In part-one employers and service providers will get an overview and refresher on ABLE accounts with key employment-related updates, strategies and tools. Join us to hear from our featured guests and panelists as we zero in on how ABLE accounts can support a more robust workforce that includes working-age people with disabilities saving and investing in an ABLE account.
Thursday, October 19th from 2-3pm ET
In Part Two of this series, we are offering a “Technical Assistance Office Hour” on ABLE and Employment. This is an opportunity for employers and service providers who participated in Part One of this series to ask questions of our featured guests, panelists, ABLE subject matter experts and work incentives coordinators.
Register for Part Two of “Ready and ABLE to Work and Save” *participation in Part One is a requirement.
Follow ABLE NRC on social media during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in October
ABLE NRC will share best practices during NDEAM that working-aged people with disabilities can use to help achieve an employment goal, maintain employment and/or advance in a career and/or save and invest for retirement. Connect with us on social media to learn more: Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and X (formerly Twitter), @theABLENRC.
1. I thought that when I work and deposit my employment earnings into an ABLE account that those earnings do not count as income for SSI or SSDI disability benefits. Is this correct?
Answer: No. Employment income counts as earned income that is taxable income, even when directly deposited into an ABLE account. It is important for SSI and SSDI disability beneficiaries to ask for free benefits advisement before or during their employment so they can learn about the Social Security Administration’s SSI and SSDI work supports that may help a person reduce their countable earned income. A benefits advisor is called a WIPA or CWIC. A benefits advisor can be found by entering your zip code at https://choosework.ssa.gov/findhelp/
2. I receive SSI and I want to work while going to school. With minimum wages going up, I will have more than $2,000 from my earnings within two months. How can I save this money without needing to spend it down to keep my SSI?
If you are under age 22, attend school regularly and receive SSI benefits, you may be eligible for an SSI work incentive called Student Earned Income Disregard (SEIE). There is a SEIE and ABLE Fact Sheet that can help you understand how much you can earn, how much of your earnings will not count and how you can deposit into your ABLE account so you do not need to spend down your countable resources. Make sure you let SSA know when you want to use this SSI work support each month when you report your earnings, in writing, to SSA.
3. What are some important differences that I may want to consider when choosing an ABLE plan?
The ABLE NRC has just received updates from most state ABLE plans and has posted the information on our website. Most states have joined collaborative structures in which groups of states combine their individual ABLE plans under the same program design and fee structure. When researching plans, you may want to ask the state plan if they belong to such a collaboration and, if so, whether the features in each plan are the same. This may save a lot of time.
Questions you may want to consider when evaluating ABLE plans:
- Is there a rule that the account owner must reside within the state where the account is being opened?
- Are there tax benefits and are they limited to the state in which the account owner lives?
- Are fees higher for out-of-state residents?
- Does the plan include the option you desire? For example, do they have a variety of risk tolerances and investment choices, a debit or prepaid card, a checking account feature or other feature you need?
- Is there a minimum contribution?
- What is the maximum account balance limit?
- Is there a fee to transfer my account to another state if I find a better option?
To compare ABLE plans online, you may use these tools:
When you have chosen the plan you want, click on the program name to be directed to the state ABLE plan website to open the account and/or call them with questions.
Building a great credit score can unlock the door to many opportunities and help you meet financial goals. Lenders check credit history when consumers want to open a new financial product such as a loan or credit card.
Employers sometimes check credit to get insight into a potential new hire, including signs of financial distress that might indicate the risk of theft or fraud. Employer credit checks are also more likely for jobs that require security clearance, access to money, sensitive data or confidential information. Some even check on credit history before offering a promotion.
Establishing credit can be done in a variety of ways. Experian has launched programs and solutions like Experian Boost™ and Experian Go™ to help empower and provide credit education for adults who are age 18 and older. Experian Boost™ is an easy way to take control of your credit and build long-term credit health by connecting utility, telecom, streaming accounts and rent payments to get credit for positive, on-time payments. It could instantly raise your FICO® score! Additional services include access to your free Experian credit report and FICO® score and Experian credit monitoring and alerts.
Visit the NDI Financial Resilience Center to learn how you can get free access to Experian Boost™ and Experian Go™ for 12 months! The offer is limited so act soon!
- The ABLE MATCH Act (Making ABLE a Tool to Combat Hardship) was introduced by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) to expand ABLE account access for people with disabilities. The bill would help people with lower incomes participate in the ABLE program by creating a federal dollar-for-dollar match for new and existing ABLE accounts held by individuals that make $28,000 annually or less. The match then tapers off for each dollar a person earns over $28,000. This figure is also indexed to inflation and adjusted for heads of households and married couples. The ABLE MATCH Act will reward low-income people with disabilities for saving money for their disability expenses and health needs. This addition to ABLE programs will help boost enrollment and improve the financial health of people with disabilities with lower incomes.
- SSA mailed their annual informational publication, What You Need To Know About Your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) When You Turn 18 (Publication No. 05-11005) to more than 323,000 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients between the ages of 14 and 17 and their adult representatives to help them identify policies and resources to assist youth in their transition from school to adulthood. It provides information about SSI work incentives primarily affecting youth, as well as information about common programs, services and supports that parents, guardians and youth may find helpful. An ABLE account is included as a way to save money over the resource limit. SSA also has a webpage for youth to assist them with making a successful transition to adulthood.
- Florida Project 10 Transition Education Network. The Florida Project 10 Transition Education Network website is funded through the Florida Department of Education, Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services. The Project 10 website includes ABLE accounts as a resource for transitioning youth who have a disability and links them to the ABLE NRC and What are ABLE accounts? It also includes links to benefit planning services for students and youth who receive a benefit from SSA and work or plan to become employed.
ABLE Account Data Update
End of June 2023, 2nd Quarter 529 & ABLE Market Sizing Data from ISS Market Intelligence:
- 151,164 accounts have been opened; with
- $1.503 billion in assets under management; and
- the average ABLE account size is $9,943.
ABLE NRC’s ABLE State Plan Updates
- Many ABLE plans have made significant changes such as reducing fees and increasing options for people to help ABLE account owners manage their savings and investments. A number of plans have taken steps to limit Medicaid payback for residents who select their home state’s ABLE plan. You can see these updates and compare plans using ABLE NRC’s ABLE State Plan Tools:
Additional ABLE Plan Updates
- Illinois: A new law in Illinois (IL) requires IL public schools to share information about ABLE accounts at annual Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs partnered with the Illinois State Board of Education to ensure that the estimated 290,000 Illinois public school students who have IEPs, many of whom are eligible to own an IL ABLE account, will receive information about IL ABLE accounts at every annual IEP meeting. Read more about IEPs and IL ABLE.
- ABLE plans connected with Fifth Third Bank: Through various providers, many state ABLE plans may offer a debit card to make withdrawals from the ABLE account. Some states use Fifth Third Bank, which owns a nationwide network of more than 40,000 fee-free ATMs where customers can use their ABLE Fifth Third debit card to withdraw cash fee-free from ATMS listed in their ATM locator. Fifth Third Bank offers notched ABLE debit cards to assist blind and low-vision customers ensure the card inserts correctly into the ATM and PIN pads. Other providers may use a Braille debit card to assist users. ABLE debit cards allow easy access to an ABLE account and can be used to pay for qualified disability expenses. Review the state ABLE plan disclosure document and note that there is an additional disclosure specific to the debit card.