October 2019 AchievABLE Newsletter

The October issue of our AchievABLE Newsletter contains stories on the following:

New Webinar: Supporting Employment for Transition-Age Youth with Disabilities: How ABLE Accounts and SSA Work Incentives Can Help!

October 24, 2019, 2:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. ET

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a month devoted to the importance of an inclusive workforce that values the skills and talents of people with disabilities. ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts can contribute to disability workforce inclusion by supporting the education and employment goals of qualified individuals with disabilities. In combination with Social Security Administration (SSA) work incentives, ABLE accounts can increase financial self-sufficiency and improve long-term outcomes.

The purpose of this webinar is to educate transition-age youth with disabilities, their families, providers and advocates on how effective use of an ABLE account, in addition to supports and work incentives offered by SSA to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries, can improve the life trajectory of transition-age youth. 

This webinar will cover:

  • What ABLE accounts are, and how they can support transition-age youth.
  • SSA work incentives specific to transition-age youth.
  • How ABLE accounts and SSA work incentives can be used individually and/or together for transition-age youth.
  • Promising practices to consider.
  • Testimonials from ABLE account owners and parents/guardians of ABLE account owners.
  • Next steps and resources.

This webinar will be moderated by Miranda Kennedy, Director, ABLE National Resource Center (ABLE NRC), and will include a panel of ABLE-related stakeholders and experts:

  • Laurie Schaller, Disability Benefits Expert, ABLE NRC
  • Kevin Nickerson, Co-Director of the American Dream Employment Network, National Disability Institute
  • ABLE account owners and parents/guardians of ABLE account owners 


2020 ABLE NRC Ambassador Application

The ABLE National Resource Center is seeking to identify nine (9) ABLE account owners to participate as ABLE NRC Ambassadors in 2020. This will be our third cohort of ABLE Ambassadors. Click on the following links to learn more about our 2019 ABLE Ambassadors and our ABLE NRC Ambassador/Advisor Alumni.

We are looking for parents/guardians and working-age adults with disabilities who 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 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, religion, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity.

ABLE NRC Ambassadors receive a $500 contribution to their ABLE account at the end of the year, based on full participation in the Ambassador program. This includes all meetings, regularly scheduled interviews and submission of pictures that will be used to define the ABLE experience.

Applications due November 8, 2019.

Apply to be a 2020 ABLE NRC Ambassador

Ambassador NRC Highlight: Shane Wegner

Shane Wegner smiling, standing outside.Shane Wegner is a Senior Accessibility Specialist working with Thomson Reuters, a job he started in August 2019. Before that, Shane worked in similar roles at the Target Corporation and Dahl Consulting. A U.S. resident originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Shane lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his partner. Shane is also a part-time law student at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, and he is on track to get his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in 2022. Shane is an ABLE account owner with the Tennessee ABLE program, having opened his account with them in 2017 before the program was closed to out-of-state residents. 

In honor of October being National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), the ABLE National Resource Center (ABLE NRC) is highlighting Shane’s story as a working-age individual with a disability who is employed, not receiving any means-tested benefits and who is using an ABLE account very strategically for a long-term goal. Shane is accessing all the mechanisms he can to minimize the additional expenses that come with navigating the world as a blind individual while also maximizing his financial options in the hopes of early retirement. His employer provides the accommodations he needs and offers retirement options with matching funds that Shane accesses.

I use my ABLE account as a tax savings vehicle since it offers a ROTH-like quality beyond a regular ROTH IRA. It’s much more flexible, which is helpful if I ever need to access it before retirement. Having said that, I contribute to the account with no plans to withdraw from the account until I retire,” Shane shares.

A member of the National Federation of the Blind, Shane has been blind since birth. This makes Shane eligible for an ABLE account, although he wasn’t sure he was eligible at first. As a Canadian citizen and legal U.S. resident, Shane had some questions about eligibility. After doing his homework, he found out that being a legal U.S. resident, and based on his age of disability onset and type of disability, he qualified for ABLE. He shares that he wishes he had known he qualified sooner because he missed out on a whole year’s worth of potential investment growth within his ABLE account. Based on his long-term investment goals, missing even a single year’s worth of ABLE savings matters to Shane because his goal for his ABLE account is to maximize retirement savings along with other retirement vehicles that are available to him. 

Shane Wegner sitting on a motorcycleFor Shane, another benefit of having his ABLE account is that he was able to use the assets in his account to help him qualify for a mortgage on his first condo. He is pre-approved and waiting on the mortgage to be finalized. The closing date is expected at the end of this month. After that, he will be living in a lovely studio in downtown Minneapolis where he will have an easy commute to work.

In 2017, the ABLE NRC’s state comparison tool helped inform Shane’s choice of ABLE program. Given his goal of retirement and deep understanding of investing, according to Shane, Tennessee’s program was the ideal option for him. It was open to out-of-state residents at the time and offered the most variety in terms of choice of investments along with competitive fees. With an undergraduate degree in business, a fondness for doing financial modeling and saving towards retirement as his primary goal, Tennessee’s program was a perfect fit, and he has no plans to change programs. 

An advocate for ABLE accounts among his friends who are also eligible, Shane’s experience has been that many of them haven’t heard of ABLE and/or do not understand the power and potential of an ABLE account. Shane breaks it down for them.

When asked to share his ultimate advice, Shane says, “For those who hesitate – for someone like me who is working, not receiving means-tested benefits and who has assets to build, there is no benefit to using the ABLE account on a regular basis. The longer-term is where the real benefits reside.”

Top Three Questions: October

I have an ABLE account open in the state where I currently live, but I was offered a job in another state. I have decided to take the job! Do I have to “cash-out” my ABLE account when I move, does it remain open or do I have to move it to my new state?

First, congratulations on your new job! The ABLE Act allows you to open an account in any state that has a program, as long as you meet their rules. Some states have a rule that you must live in their state to open the account but most do not. If there is no rule about residency in your current state, you can simply keep your account open and continue to contribute to it. You may, however, want to review the ABLE program in your new state because some states have a tax credit for residents.

To compare and contrast ABLE programs, use one or all three of the tools on our website at:

Can I work, have an ABLE account and keep my benefits?

Working and saving money in a tax-exempt ABLE account is a great opportunity to enhance your financial well-being and plan for your future! While contributions into an ABLE account still count as “earned income” by Social Security and other means-tested benefit programs, they do not count as a resource by most federally-funded, means-tested benefit programs like HUD housing, food stamps or Medicaid. For Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the first $100,000 is not counted. Anything over that is counted as a resource along with other non-ABLE resources. If you exceed the resource limit, usually $2,000 for an individual, your SSI is temporarily suspended until you fall under the resource limit, but your Medicaid is not affected! For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you can have any amount of savings and your SSDI is not affected. For more information about how working affects SSDI and SSI benefits, download the 2019 Redbook or find a Community Work Incentives Coordinator (CWIC). A CWIC can analyze the public benefits you receive and provide free benefits counseling services. choosework.ssa.gov/about/meet-your-employment-team

Can I use my ABLE account to obtain a better mortgage rate?

No. While you cannot use an ABLE account as security for a loan or collateral, the bank may consider your ABLE account contributions as evidence of positive savings behavior. This may carry over to your mortgage payments and demonstrate your commitment to repaying your mortgage timely.

September Webinar Archive: ABLE Program Spotlight – ABLE Collaboration

In September, we showcased the ABLE Collaboration which is comprised of the Oregon, Maryland, Washington State and ABLE for ALL Savings Plans. They offer high-quality, low-cost ABLE savings and investment plans that are available to eligible individuals nationwide.

State ABLE Program News

  • Earlier this month, National Disability Institute (NDI) and CalABLE launched the AchievABLE Corner, a dedicated section of the NDI website that offers just-in-time financial education resources and tools for potential and current CalABLE account holders.
  • To celebrate the 1,000-day milestone of ABLEnow, one ABLEnow account owner will receive a $1,000 contribution. To enter, account owners are invited to share how ABLEnow is making an impact in their lives.

Interested in having your state ABLE program news shared in AchievABLE? Email Maggie Redden at mredden@ndi-inc.org.