ABLE accounts: set aside money without putting your other public benefits at risk.
Authored By: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (Hammond Office)
Information Louisiana ABLE Accounts
By Southeast Louisiana Legal Services 5/2019
WHAT IS AN ABLE ACCOUNT?
"ABLE" stands for the "Achieving a Better Life Experience Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014." This law allows ABLE accounts to help people save for things related to a disability.
Who can have an ABLE account?
Anyone who is meets the Social Security disability standard by age 26 can have an ABLE account.
If you are not on SSI or Social Security Disability you must swear under oath that by age 26 you had a physical or mental impairment, resulting in marked and severe functional limitations, and can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last at least 12 months in a row, or are blind. You must keep a signed doctor’s statement with diagnosis of the disability and be ready to show it to the ABLE program or to the IRS if it is asked for.
Why have an ABLE account?
ABLE accounts let you save money and get other aid. You can still get help from SSI, SNAP, Medicaid or TANF/FITAP.
What can people do with ABLE account money?
The money can only be spent on certain types of expenses, listed below.
How much money can go into an ABLE account?
You can have only one ABLE account.
Other people (like relatives or your lawyer) can put money into your ABLE account.
No more than $15,000 a year plus the lesser of the federal poverty amount for one person or the account holder’s earnings for the year can be deposited into your ABLE account.
If you get SSI you can have up to $100,000 in your ABLE account without it counting against the SSI. The limit is $500,000 to avoid problems with other aid programs.
How do I set up an ABLE account?
The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance maintains the account.
You can set up the account online.
Or you can set up an ABLE account by mail. You must send in a completed form plus a first deposit of at least $10.
Here is the link to apply online or get the application to mail in: www.able.osfa.la.gov/index.aspx
What are the rules for using money in an ABLE account?
You can only use money in an ABLE account for certain types of things (listed below).
If you spend ABLE money on other things, it counts against limits for government aid (SNAP, SSI, Medicaid, etc.)
If you withdraw ABLE money to pay for housing it will count against the SSI resource limit if it is not used up in the calendar month it is taken out.
The Social Security Administration gets a report of all money taken out of an ABLE account.
If you die with money in the account, the money goes to:
· Pay any bills for things the account is supposed to cover (listed below). This includes your funeral expenses.
· If more money is left, it goes to Medicaid to pay back for any Medicaid you got since the account was opened.
· If still more is left, it goes to your heirs.
What things can ABLE money pay for?
ABLE money can only pay for “Qualified Disability Expenses.”
Here is the list of Qualified Disability Expenses:
Employment training and support.
Assistive technology and personal support services.
Prevention and wellness.
Financial management and administrative services.
Expenses for oversight and monitoring.
Funeral and burial expenses.
Other expenses may get added to the list by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
What is the difference between an ABLE account and a Special Needs Trust or Pooled Trust?
You control how ABLE account money is used, instead of a trustee.
You can put your own money into an ABLE account. You cannot do this with a Special Needs Trust.
ABLE accounts do not require the high fees of Pooled or Special Needs Trusts.
There are limits on how much you can put into or keep in an ABLE account.