How to Open an ABLE Account: Save Money and Keep Disability Benefits

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This is a post about how to open an ABLE account.

It is a neutral post, not committed to any one type of ABLE account. It is a source of information and is not sponsored in any way.

What is An ABLE Account?

“ABLE” is an acronym meaning “Achieving a Better Life Experience”.

ABLE accounts are savings accounts that people with disabilities can get.

They are a way for us to save money, tax-free, above and beyond the $2,000 that we are allowed to keep in our bank account without being penalized by Social Security.

ABLE accounts make it easy for caregivers and guardians of people with intellectual disabilities to save, and they make Trying To Get Ahead a little more feasible for anyone who accesses disability benefits in any way, shape or form.

What Is An ABLE Account?

Sorry, that video was pretty boring, wasn’t it?!

I was looking for one that was a little more snappy, in which people with disabilities were explaining what ABLE accounts were all about (- video in ASL, preferable!). But alas, no. 

Anyway, if you did not have a grasp of what it’s all about, then that video hopefully clarified some things.

The Accounts are National

ABLE accounts are set up and linked to your bank account.

They can be anywhere.

You can be living in Virginia and set up your ABLE account in Maryland (or Oregon!; you could be living in Kansas and like the system in Virginia a little better.

The point is, the ABLE system is like an umbrella, and each state sets it up a little differently.

You can sign up for ANY state (to my knowledge), but you really want to explore what each state offers, and what makes sense for YOU and your financial goals.

ABLE National Resource Center

These are the guys that you really, REALLY want to bookmark: ABLE National Resource Center.

They neutrally collect all of the resources related to ABLE accounts.

They are not trying to sell you anything or get you to go with one particular state system or another.

This was really helpful for me, because I went to their chart that compares the ABLE accounts that had debit cards (- an important feature to me) and could easily compare ABLE account systems per state.

A few things to remember:

    • ABLE accounts are really, really different per state: you should compare states to see which state is offering what fits your needs and financial goals the best
    • You CAN switch ABLE programs! I switched Moxie and myself from ABLE-now to PA-ABLE (the post about it is linked here)
    • ABLE accounts are savings programs, yes, but the companies who administer them are making a buck with us; make sure you don’t see this as a charity or something! There is a reason ABLE-now is advertising like crazy on Facebook: because they are making a lot of money with our community!

Switching ABLE Accounts

I switched our ABLE accounts from ABLE-now to Pennsylvania ABLE.

This is not an endorsement of any kind – not a sponsored post, not something they asked me to tout or say – but I switched to Pennsylvania ABLE (the information on Penn-ABLE from the ABLE Resource Center is linked here; the Pennsylvania ABLE Program is linked here).

I did so because that particular ABLE program does not charge for their debit cards, you can save over $500,000 in their program, you can split up how you want your money managed (- so, some in checking for immediate use, some for long-term growth, and some for shorter-term growth).

I also really liked their streamlined processes, not least that they make it really easy to access a U-Gift code.

U-Gift and ABLE: A Way to Gift Money Directly to an ABLE Account

U-Gift is a code where friends and family can give to someone who holds an ABLE account.

U-Gift makes plumping up an ABLE account painless, an easy way for friends and family to support someone with an ABLE account, or to give a practical, long-term investment.

So! 

If you have an ABLE-now account, or any ABLE account, for that matter and you are happy, that’s awesome. Don’t forget to go back to the Resource Center occasionally to see what’s new, and to take a look at other programs to make sure you are putting your money in the best possible place for yourself or your child.

Useful Links

    • IRS: From the IRS, a video on how you can save money with disability-related expenses by having an ABLE account
    • ABLE National Resource Center: compare programs, determine eligibility, get all the news and clear, concise answers to your questions
    • Another super-boring but helpful video from the ABLE National Resource Center on qualifying disability-related expenses (which is a question I hear a lot from other parents) 

Want to Contribute to Moxie or My Own ABLE Accounts?!!

Here’s our linked U-Gift Codes!

Moxie's!

  1. Go to UgiftABLE.com.
  2. Enter the Ugift code: 96H-784
  3. Enter the gift-giver’s name and gift amount
  4. Make the gift via electronic funds transfer or check

Mine!

  1. Go to UgiftABLE.com.
  2. Enter the Ugift code: C6Q-H6G
  3. Enter the gift-giver’s name and gift amount
  4. Make the gift via electronic funds transfer or check
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Meriah
Meriah Nichols is a career counselor, teacher and blogger. Single mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E), she is also a cat-loving Trekkie who likes her coffee hot and black.
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