ABLE Act Passed in Maryland

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Hello everyone, and welcome back to our blog this week! Thank you all so much for taking the time to visit our website.

Today, we would like to focus on an important piece of legislation that will provide tremendous financial benefits to individuals with disabilities and their families: the ABLE Act (and resulting ABLE Accounts.)

It is our hope that most families with special needs are aware of the ABLE Act and the potential financial benefits for families with special needs. In the event that you are not, here is a brief summary: the ABLE Act is a piece of legislation that allows individuals with disabilities to open special savings accounts for disability related expenses. Building on the already existing 529 savings accounts, this legislation ensures that the funds in these accounts can grow tax free as long as they are used for qualifying expenses. Perhaps the most important characteristic of the ABLE account is this: once available, these accounts will be one of only two legal ways for individuals with disabilities to save for the future without jeopardizing government benefit eligibility.

Since the Act was first introduced in 2006, it has been slowly working its way through various government channels. In December of 2014, President Obama signed this legislation into federal law. In June of 2015, the IRS published the ABLE Account Rule Proposal – a set of rules clarifying how the ABLE account should operate and defining which expenses would qualify under the Act. In January of this year, the Tax Extenders package eliminated the state residency requirement tied to the ABLE Act. And, (we are very excited to report) on April 12th of this year, Maryland became the latest state to officially sign the ABLE Act into law!

Please join us as we celebrate this most recent progress, and also provide a quick review of an excellent ABLE Act resource – the ABLE National Resource Center website.

ABLE Act Now Law in Maryland

As mentioned above, on April 12th Governor Hogan signed the ABLE Act into law in Maryland. According to a press release from Maryland’s Department of Disabilities, “State implementation requires the College Savings Plans of Maryland Board to establish the Maryland ABLE program helping promote financial savings to support individuals with disabilities in “maintaining health, independence, and quality of life.”  The legislation renames the College Savings Plans of Maryland Board to the Maryland 529 Board and requires them to work in consultation with the Maryland Department of Disabilities.” ABLE accounts in MD are expected to be available by October of 2017.

Here at M&L, we are delighted with this progress, and are excited by the financial options that will soon be open to individuals with disabilities in Maryland and D.C. We are also excited to note that with MD now officially on board, 40 states have signed their respective ABLE Acts into law. Of these, 4 states expect to have their ABLE accounts up and running in the next few months.

ABLE National Resource Center

As the ABLE Act is signed into law across the country (and we get closer to the implementation of ABLE accounts) it is important to ensure that you are informed about these accounts, and how they can benefit your family members with disabilities. A great way to become informed, and to access the information you will be need to make sound financial choices, is to visit the ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) website.

According to the site, the ANRC is a “collaborative whose supporters share the goal of accelerating the design and availability of ABLE accounts for the benefit of individuals with disabilities and their families,” with the added goal of “provid[ing] consistent, reliable information concerning the benefits of an ABLE account.“ In keeping with this goal, the ANRC website has a number of very informative articles.

The Understanding ABLE tab contains a number of interesting and helpful articles, including “Becoming ABLE Ready” and “Debunking ABLE Myths.” This tab also contains one of the most informative articles on the website, “10 Things You Should Know About ABLE”, complete with a 10 minute YouTube video, Understanding ABLE. The Resource page also contains a number of useful links to articles about the ABLE Act/Account, government releases that outline rules and regulations of the ABLE Act, and organizations that have advocated and continue to advocate for the financial rights of individuals with disabilities.

In addition to providing a ton of relevant, useful information, the ANRC has also designed their website to incorporate a “State Review” page. Visitors to this page will find a map of the United States, wherein each state is a link. Clicking on a link for each state will bring visitors to a separate page which outlines the progress  which that state has made in implementing the ABLE Act, and provides a link to the state’s ABLE website (if available). We strongly encourage you to visit if you are looking for a quick way to check your state’s progress.

Would You Like More Information?

Thanks again for taking the time to visit our blog today – we hope that you enjoyed reading about the latest progress with the ABLE Act and Account, and that you were able to take away some new and useful information. If you would like to read more about the ABLE Act, please read our previous blog on the topic, or visit the ABLE National Resource website. As well, following this link will take you to a list of states that have posted websites to provide updates on the status of their ABLE Programs.

If you would like to learn how to integrate the ABLE Account into your special needs financial plan, or would like to learn how to create a special needs financial plan that will ensure stability and prosperity for you and your family with special needs, please contact us! We would be more than happy to meet you and your family, and help you design a Comprehensive Special Needs Financial Life Plan that will allow you to reach your financial goals, and achieve long term stability.

For additional information on the implementation of the ABLE Act across the U.S., you may wish to watch this webinar released by the ABLE National Resource Center. The Webinar, titled ABLE Implementation 2016, “aims to highlight the various components of this progress in an effort to better prepare and educate individuals with disabilities and their families, state ABLE administrators, the greater disability advocacy community, and other relevant stakeholders as to the current status of ABLE and what we can expect in the next 12 months.” A download for the slides as well as live captioning are also available.

Thanks again – don’t forget to come back next week!

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One comment

  1. Karen Leggett

    Very comprehensive set of links for further information. Thank you!

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