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LEAD Center Prepares Release of Policy Brief Discussing ABLE Act and Employment Outcomes

March 29, 2017

The LEAD Center will soon release a brief titled, “The ABLE Act and Employment: Strategies for Maximizing the Effectiveness of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act as a Tool for Financial Stability and Employment Outcomes of People with Disabilities.” 

The ABLE Act, signed into law December 19,, 2014, allows states to offer tax-advantaged savings/investment accounts to certain individuals with disabilities in an effort to help them and their families save for short- and long-term disability-related expenses, including those related to employment. Additionally, funds in an ABLE account are not taken into consideration when determining eligibility for most federally-funded means-tested benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. 

The purpose of the brief is to demonstrate how provisions in the ABLE Act can be combined with federal benefit services and other federal programs and initiatives to further competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities. The brief contains a list of the provisions of the ABLE Act, their impact on the financial self-sufficiency and employment opportunities of persons with disabilities, and recommendations on how to best utilize the ABLE Act to maximize these outcomes. Some examples included in the brief of how an ABLE account can be combined with other supports, in order to increase financial self-sufficiency and/or employment opportunities, include:

Utilizing the SSI PASS (Plan for Achieving Self-Support) program in conjunction with ABLE account savings to maintain supported employment services.

Using the ABLE accounts to pay for Medicaid Buy-In Program premiums, rather than limiting their earned income to stay below Medicaid’s income limits. That way, people continue to be eligible for their Medicaid-funded supported employment services while steadily improving their financial status.

Having state VR programs consider providing assistance in linking people to support for setting up ABLE accounts, as something offered to VR participants.

With 18 states in the country having already launched ABLE programs, the majority of which are enrolling qualified individuals nationwide, it is vital that people with disabilities and their families understand the benefits of being an ABLE account owner and learn how to think creatively in order to truly maximize the benefits of this newly implemented law. These states now include: Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia. Additionally, at least five more states are expected to open ABLE programs in the next few months.

The ABLE brief is expected to be released within the next month and will be posted on the LEAD website.