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The Latest on the ABLE Act and ABLE Accounts

March 31, 2015

Although the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act has been law for more than three months, there remains a significant amount of work to be done before individuals with disabilities and their families can begin to benefit. The two most pressing areas of work remaining are the development of state ABLE programs and the establishment of ABLE regulations and/or guidance by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

It is important to remember that the newly signed law allows states to establish independent ABLE programs but does not mandate them, nor does the federal law in and of itself create them. Rather, prior to establishing an ABLE account, a state must first pass legislation to develop ABLE-related programs and, thus, ABLE accounts. To date, there have been more than 30 state legislatures who have filed bills to establish state ABLE programs, with several other legislatures in the “drafting stage.”

The Treasury Department, in collaboration with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA), is working to develop regulations as required by the ABLE Act. Forthcoming regulations will clarify various elements of the ABLE Act, including eligibility and further specification on what is or is not a “qualified disability expense.” While the Treasury Department is not required to publish regulations and/or guidance until summer 2015, the Department recently issued a notice encouraging states to move forward with implementing ABLE programs, despite not yet having formal regulations.

Please stay tuned as more information and updates are likely to occur in the coming weeks and months.