In 2014, the federal government enacted ABLE, Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, which allows individuals with disabilities to establish tax-advantaged savings accounts. California followed with its version of this Act, CalABLE. Some other states have done the same, but it is not necessary to open an ABLE account in the state of residence. An individual may open an ABLE in any state that accepts outside residents.
ABLE gives individuals with disabilities the opportunity to establish a savings account without jeopardizing their eligibility for means-tested government benefits such as Medicaid, Medi-Cal, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Before the enactment of ABLE, people with disabilities often had no viable means to pay for their care. But post-enactment, individuals can maintain an ABLE account that can receive contributions, grow tax-free, and withdraw money for qualified disability expenses tax-free.
Qualified disability expenses are eligible for tax-advantaged treatment when incurred by individuals with disabilities. Expenses that are associated with maintaining the health, independence, and quality of life of individuals with disabilities.
Some examples of qualified disability expenses include:
Education: Tuition for preschool through post-secondary education, tutoring, special education services, vocational training, and other educational materials.
Housing: Expenses related to maintaining a primary residence, including rent, mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, and home modifications or improvements that enhance accessibility.
Transportation: Costs associated with transportation, including purchasing or modifying a vehicle, specialized transportation services, public transportation expenses, and gasoline or other vehicle-related expenses.
Employment Support: Expenses for job-related services, such as vocational rehabilitation, job coaching, assistive technology, and supported employment.
Assistive Technology: The cost of devices, equipment, or technology that help individuals with disabilities perform daily activities, communicate, or access information. Examples include wheelchairs, hearing aids, screen readers, and computer software.
Health Care: Qualified medical expenses not covered by insurance, such as doctor visits, hospital stays, therapy services, prescription medications, and medical equipment. MeRT would fit into this category.
Personal Support Services: Costs associated with hiring a personal caregiver or attendant, in-home support services, respite care, and other forms of assistance with daily living activities.
Financial Management and Administrative Services: Fees for financial planning, investment management, legal fees, and expenses related to ABLE account administration.