In 2017, Governor Charlie Baker launched the Massachusetts ABLE Act savings program. The ABLE Act allows persons with disabilities to save money without losing benefits such as Medicaid (MassHealth in our state) and SSI. Here are some key points to remember about the savings program:
Eligibility requires that the onset of the disability occur prior to age 26 years
The maximum to be saved is $14,000 a year in tax-deductible contributions
There is a $100,000 cap in order to preserve SSI eligibility
There can only be one ABLE account for an individual
Money must be spent for qualified expenses
Medicaid payback kicks in for any remaining dollars in the ABLE account upon the death of the beneficiary
The program gives a person with disabilities the opportunity to build investments for the long term. Anyone can donate to the account. Until ABLE, individuals faced a $2,000 cap for resources, which meant any private funding would have to come through a special needs trust account. This requires legal assistance, which is a barrier for some people. ABLE does not eliminate the value of or need for a special needs trust for those who use them now. You can save toward a car, equipment, housing expenses or other needs.
Qualified expenses include any expenses related to the eligible individual’s disability, including: education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology and personal support services, health, prevention and wellness, financial management and administrative services, legal fees, expenses for oversight and monitoring, funeral and burial expenses.