ABLE Account Decision Guide Series

Ready and ABLE to Work and Save

Things to Consider When You Explore Work

Getting a job, one that could lead to a career, is a big deal for anyone. If you are a person with a disability, you will have more to consider when it comes to going to work than people who do not have a disability. For example, if you are planning to use a car to get to and from work, and don’t have money to cover this cost, you can save funds in your ABLE account to purchase and/or have your vehicle modified to meet your needs. Explore the ABLE Decision Guide, Determining Whether Something Is a Qualified Disability Expense (QDE), if you would like to learn more.

If you are considering work for the first time, we encourage you to do some career exploration to think about what type of work would be the best fit for you.

If this is the case, you may find the following helpful:

There are many ways to make a living and many things to consider when choosing a job or career path. Different jobs require different skills: Sometimes an employer will train you for a job and sometimes they will want an applicant to have experience or certain levels of training and education before they hire you. Some jobs will provide the tools and equipment you need and sometimes they will expect you to use your own money to buy what you need before they hire you. For example, if you are hired for a construction job, this would be the difference between your employer providing you with a set of tools versus their expecting you to come with your own tools to use on the job. As a person with a disability, it might be that you need to find a job with specific or flexible hours. Another consideration might be that you would benefit from a certain method of training or a certain type or level of supervision to be successful. You might require supports such as a hearing aid or job coaching while you are learning or performing a job. The possibilities are endless and the answer to what best accommodates you in a work environment may differ from what accommodates someone else. Figuring out the answers to these types of questions for your specific situation will help you find and keep a job and/or assist you in advancing in a career that fits you. Funds in your ABLE account can play a role in meeting your employment needs. This can be done in conjunction with cost-free sources of education, training, other supports or services or tools and equipment you need to do a job. Consider using cost-free sources first, using your ABLE account to pay for employment-related items and services if other funding sources are not available. This allows you to save the maximum amount of money in your ABLE account. As you start thinking about what you need to be successful in a job, consider building a circle of support (e.g., trusted family, advisors, employment service professionals) to help you develop an employment plan that addresses your needs. Check out the resources below to learn more about strategies and resources to help you.

Even if you have a strong sense for the type of job that would be right for you, you might wonder, “Will I need additional support or accommodations finding, learning or keeping a job?”

If your answer is yes, explore the services and supports available to you in the workforce and disability service systems by reading:

In exploring this ABLE Decision Guide, you have seen that there are many things to consider when you think about getting a job and many ways ABLE accounts can be used to support you. It can be overwhelming though, especially without some help. There are services that can help you find a job and support you as you learn a job and/or move up a career ladder. Some of these services are available to anyone with or without a disability and some are designed specifically to help people with disabilities. The types of employment services used, and how they are used, will vary based on your needs and personal circumstances. The resources below are a great place to start.

  • Simon Cantos Spotlight - This short article tells Simon Cantos’ story: how he advanced in his career as a person with a significant disability, the help he received and how he uses his ABLE account to maintain his employment while also contributing to his ABLE account for other goals.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation | Workers with a Disability - Vocational Rehabilitation is a federal service available to help people with disabilities train for, find and keep jobs. This Career One Stop webpage describes the services available to people with qualifying disabilities whether they receive a disability benefit or not.
  • SSA Ticket to Work - The SSA Ticket to Work website offers SSA disability beneficiaries free job support and services. Utilize the “Find Help” tool on this webpage to locate a service provider who can help you develop an employment plan and access SSA work incentives and employment supports.
  • Alternative Finance Programs and ABLE for Assistive Technology - This podcast, hosted by Chris Peterson of Penny Forward, features Laurie Schaller, a Manager of Financial Empowerment at National Disability Institute, who explains how assistive technology can help people with disabilities on the job or in their home. The interview includes strategies to consider and stories of people who have used these programs to afford assistive technology, save money and improve their lives.

Having a job means earning wages that could result in your ability to save money. If you are receiving means-tested benefits like SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or Medicaid, earned income and savings can raise concerns for you and/or for those who support you around maintaining your eligibility for the services and the supports those benefits provide. In this scenario, one of your best strategies will be understanding how work impacts your benefits and how to use your ABLE account to help manage your assets.

If this is the case for you, please read:

Income from work may impact your means-tested benefits like SSI or Medicaid. These benefits are often critical to the health, safety and well-being of people who receive them. To make sure that income you save from a job does not negatively impact your eligibility for benefits, it is important to access information from reputable sources and use strategies like opening an ABLE account. To learn more, check out the resources below:

  • Nathan Turner Blog - In his blog, ABLE account owner Nathan Turner tells the story of how he realized working would be possible for him and how he now helps others in similar situations to see the benefits of working. He also shares how he uses his ABLE account to keep his job and increase his financial security.
  • ABLE Accounts and Employment Success - This podcast features Kathy DeAngelo, a Certified Benefits and Work Incentives Planner for Chenango-Delaware-Otsego (CDO) Workforce in upstate New York. Listen as Ms. DeAngelo shares how her office informs Social Security disability beneficiaries about ABLE accounts and why owning an ABLE account is critical for people who need a safe place to save some, or all, of the money earned from a job.
  • ABLE Accounts and Working People with Disabilities - This ABLE Decision Guide offers resources and strategic guidance to ABLE account owners who seek to achieve maximum levels of independence through employment.
  • 2022 Update – How do ABLE accounts affect my Social Security disability benefits? - Published by the Social Security Administration (SSA) Ticket to Work program, this blog includes information on ABLE accounts and SSA work supports.


You, as a person with a disability, or others can contribute up to $17,000 per year into an ABLE account. When you work, you may be able to contribute even more from your employment income if you or your employer do not make a deposit into a retirement plan in the calendar year. This is a great opportunity to save towards a retirement goal with the added bonus that this money grows tax-free when invested in an ABLE account. To learn more, please go to:

  • ABLE To Work Act  – This fact sheet includes information on the additional amount which can be deposited, identifies the types of retirement accounts or annuities and how an ABLE account can be funded.
  • Finding the Funds to Save in an ABLE Account  – This decision guide examines key sources of contributions to an ABLE account. It includes earnings, using SSA work incentives and other key strategies.
  • Setting Your Financial Goals – Setting your financial goals is an important step to achieving financial well-being and maximizing the benefits of being an ABLE account owner. Setting your goals is the first step in creating a roadmap to a better financial future.


No matter where you are in your employment decision making process, the ABLE National Resource Center has educational tools and resources to help you increase your knowledge of personal finances and achieve a higher level of financial stability and well-being.

Knowing how to manage your money from employment in your ABLE account will help the account to grow tax-free to best support you in achieving your goals and dreams. The Decision Guide, Managing Your ABLE Account, may be helpful to you as you move towards making the most of your ABLE account.

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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.