Washington State ABLE Program Helps Individuals with Disabilities Save for the Future

When Congress passed and President Obama signed the Stephen Beck Jr. ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act in 2014, people with eligible disabilities could finally save for their everyday needs, invest in a tax-free account, and prepare for the future without losing their state or federal benefits.

Last month, after years of hard work with advocates and stakeholders across the state, Commerce hosted a celebration of the new Washington State ABLE Savings program. Featured speakers and honored guests included bill sponsor Rep. Christine Kilduff, Washington State Treasurer Duane Davidson, ABLE Board Chair Jeff Manson and young advocate Emma Patterson and her mom, Amy Patterson.

ABLE is a tax-advantage savings plan that will allow individuals with disabilities and their families to save for disability-related expenses without disqualifying them for crucial state and federal benefits, like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Currently, individuals are disqualified for those benefits when their assets reach $2,000, or $3,000 for couples. That will no longer be the case when funds are deposited into an ABLE account.

By using an ABLE plan, individuals who depend on these benefits are no longer forced into poverty so they may continue qualifying for them, according to Peter Tassoni, state administrator for the Washington State ABLE program.

Through ABLE, people can set aside money for long-term savings, through several investment options, or for spending, through a secured option. Any earnings in an ABLE account are tax-free if used for qualified expenses, like education, housing, assistive technology, personal support services and other disability-related expenses. Individuals who have a significant disability prior to age of 26 are eligible for an account. Eligibility is based on the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability, which includes physical, mental and intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Washington state residents who enroll in the ABLE program are eligible to waive the $35 annual account maintenance fee through June 30, 2019. Additionally, anyone can contribute to an ABLE account up to the annual gift tax exclusion of $15,000.

An estimated 50,000 Washington residents with disabilities and their families can take advantage of the new resources, support, and services to reach their financial goals.

We urge you to learn more and share information about this valuable tool that will help strengthen communities by helping all Washingtonians achieve their dreams. Visit our Commerce webpage and www.washingtonstateABLE.com.

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