Breaking Down Community Boundaries as Allies alongside People with Disabilities

Disabilities Workgroup

The Disabilities Workgroup supports the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) and the Developmental Disabilities Endowment Trust Fund (DDETF) Governing Boards in the development and enactment of strategic plans, policies, and procedures to assist individuals with a disability in saving money in order to increase self-sufficiency. 

We also support the Office of the Developmental Disabilities Ombuds. This program provides an added safety net for persons with disabilities in communities throughout our state. Additionally, we act as a liaison to the state’s Developmental Disabilities Council.

Achieving a Better Life Experience Program (ABLE)

Washington ABLE program launch is delayed until Summer 2018

ABLE Information

Washington State’s Legislature created the federal ABLE act. Washington’s ABLE program will open in 2018, and will provide life-improving opportunities for persons with disabilities and their families.

Individuals wanting to sign up for an ABLE account right away may do so through Oregon’s ABLE for ALL. This is Oregon’s program for out-of-state residents, from which Washington’s ABLE program will be modeled.

Millions of individuals with disabilities and their families depend on a wide variety of public benefits for income, health care and food and housing assistance. Eligibility for these public benefits (SSI, SNAP, Medicaid) require meeting a means or resource test that limits eligibility to individuals to report more than $2,000 in cash savings, retirement funds and other items of significant value. To remain eligible for these public benefits, an individual must remain poor. For the first time in public policy, the ABLE Act recognizes the extra and significant costs of living with a disability. ABLE allows eligible individuals and their families to establish savings accounts that will not affect their eligibility for SSI, Medicaid and other public benefits.

Qualified expenses which help improve health, independence and/or quality of life:

Basic Living Expenses
Employment Training & Support
Assistive Technology
Personal Support Services
Health, Prevention & Wellness
Financial Management
Legal Fees
Funeral and Burial

For more information:
Washington ABLE Program Fact Sheet (PDF)
National ABLE Resource Center (Web)
Social Security SI 01130.740 Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Accounts
IRS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Guidance – Section 529A (Web)
Senior Bulletin on Special Needs Trusts and ABLE (PDF) 
Implications of the ABLE Act for State Medicaid Programs (PDF) 

Contact Peter Tassoni, Disabilities Workgroup Manager, at 360-725-3125

Developmental Disabilities Endowment Trust Fund Program (DDETF)

DDETG ImageThe DDETF is a supplemental special needs trust program established in 1999 by the Washington State Legislature. The program enables individuals with developmental disabilities, or their families and friends, to set aside funds for future use without affecting their eligibility for government services and benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.

Funds may be used for many services not covered by other benefits, including recreation, therapy, clothing and transportation. The Department of Commerce administers the DDETF through a contract with The Arc of Washington State, who acts as the Trust Manager.

Margaret-Lee retires from the DDETF board chair
Margaret-Lee, former DDETF chairMargaret-Lee was there at the inception of DDETF as a legislative concept with former senator McDonald. She advocated for the legislation, and served two terms as a board member appointed by Governors Locke and Gregoire. She served the last seven years as the board chair. Margaret-Lee has been a dedicated and enthusiastic force behind the successful DDETF program for nearly 20 years. Thank you!

Contact Peter Tassoni about questions on the position or the process to select a new chair.

For more information, visit the DDETF website at or contact the Department of Commerce’s Disabilities Workgroup Manager, Peter Tassoni.

The Office of the Developmental Disabilities Ombuds Program

Office of the Developmental Disabilities Ombuds Program

The Office of the Developmental Disabilities Ombuds (ODDO) was created by the Washington State Legislature in 2016 to investigate and report on services to persons with developmental disabilities.

The Department of Commerce administers the ODDO through a contract with Disability Rights Washington.

The ODDO will provide information on rights and responsibilities of persons receiving developmental disabilities services and/or other state services. In addition, the ODDO will recommend changes in procedures to state agencies, the Governor’s Office and the State Legislature where they pertain to the needs of persons with developmental disabilities.

Program Links

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ABLE Presentations

ABLE Governing Board Meetings

ABLE Program Progress Updates

DDETF Governing Board Meetings

Relevant State and Federal Laws

Program Contact

Peter Tassoni
Disabilities Workgroup Manager