After much anticipation, Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts may now be opened in both Missouri (where they are called STABLE accounts) and Illinois.

These new accounts are designed for individuals with disabilities who developed their disability before age 26. Individuals who meet the age criteria and are currently receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits are automatically eligible for an ABLE account. Individuals not currently receiving benefits but who meet the age requirement can open an ABLE account if they satisfy SSI criteria for “functionality limitations.”

The ABLE Act allows an individual with a disability – and his or her family – to put funds into a tax-advantaged account. ABLE account funds may be used for qualified expenses of living with a disability. In addition to medical expenses, funds may be used for basic living expenses, education, housing, transportation, employment, assistive and personal support services, health care, legal fees, health and wellness, financial management, and administrative services.

Earnings on savings are tax-deferred and tax-free when used to pay for qualified expenses. Subject to limitations, ABLE account balances and distributions do not affect needs-based financial aid such as Medicaid or SSI as long as the balance is less than $100,000. If the account exceeds $100,000, SSI benefits will be suspended. Once the balance is below the $100,000, SSI benefits will resume. Medicaid benefits are suspended in the event the account is greater than $300,000.

Funds may be withdrawn from an ABLE account through electronic transfer or loaded onto an ABLE Card (a debit card that can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted). ABLE cards do not pull funds from an ABLE account; you choose the amount you want to load from your account onto the card. Companion cards for parents or guardians are also available. Online ABLE Card accounts can be set up to manage card funds, track spending history, add notes regarding purchases for future reference, and categorize purchases as qualified or non-qualified.

To open a Missouri STABLE account or for more detailed information, go to www.moable.com.

To open an Illinois ABLE account or for more detailed information, go to https://savewithable.com/il/home.html.