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ABLE Accounts for Disabled Beneficiaries

ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts are tax-advantaged accounts for disabled beneficiaries.  Although the ABLE program legislation was passed by Congress in 2014 and Pennsylvania has passed legislation authorizing the state to offer these accounts, they are not yet available.  Read on to learn more about the ABLE program and how it can help you plan for the future of your special needs child.

What is an ABLE account?

Similar to 529 college savings plans, which help families save for higher education costs with substantial tax benefits, the ABLE program would provide tax-advantaged savings accounts intended to cover costs for children with disabilities throughout their lifetime.

ABLE accounts can be set up for eligible individuals who are diagnosed with a disability before the age of 26.  Eligible participants in the ABLE program are also entitled to Social Security benefits based on their disability.  To qualify, a disability certification from a physician can be filed by the individual, parent or guardian.  The certification must state that the individual has a physical or mental condition that is expected to last for a minimum of 12 months or that will result in death.


About the ABLE Program:

  • ABLE accounts are maintained by the state and are operated under federal guidelines.
  • There is currently an annual limit $14,000 on nondeductible cash contributions.
  • Earnings accumulated in and withdrawn from ABLE accounts are exempt from taxes.
  • Up to $100,000 of assets can accumulate in an ABLE account without loss of SSI benefits.
  • The ABLE Program creates a Medicaid lien for Medicaid benefits.
  • Individuals with ABLE accounts are still eligible for other benefits.


Participants in the ABLE program remain eligible for other state and federal needs-based programs or benefits including SSI benefits and Medicaid which has been a challenge for families trying to provide financial support for a special needs child.  With ABLE accounts, children with disabilities can benefit from the generosity of family and friends who want to contribute to their savings.

ABLE accounts will grow exempt from taxes and funds can be withdrawn tax-free to pay for qualified disability expenses including education, housing, legal fees, healthcare, financial management, employment training and funeral expenses.

Can an ABLE Account Replace a Special Needs Trust?

For many families, the ABLE account will be an important option in addition to, rather than instead of, establishing a special needs trust.  To discuss your specific situation and find out how our trusted attorneys can help you plan for the financial security and wellbeing of your special needs child, please call us at Fingeret Law at 412-254-8533 or contact us online.