Several states say they will work together in effort to offer new accounts that will allow people with disabilities to save money without risking their government benefits. Nine states have joined forces as they work to make ABLE accounts available to the public.
ABLE accounts were authorized with the federal passage of the Achieving a Better Life Act in 2014, but each state has to approve their own legislation and create regulations before offering them. To date, 40 states and Washington, D.C. have approved legislation to create ABLE accounts, but no state has made the program available as of yet.
State officials say they will be able to attract better quality investment products at a lower cost by uniting in a consortium. The states plan to work together to offer investment options, but each will operate its own ABLE program.
The states committed to participating in the consortium include Alaska, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. It is thought that are states are considering joining. Together, the states say they will leverage the potential of over 47 million residents.
Without such a consortium, it is thought that there would be too few people eligible in each individual state for ABLE accounts to attract the best offerings.
States have begun preparing to offer ABLE accounts. As this process has begun, a new website is launching to help families navigate the offerings.
The site from the ABLE National Resource Center is designed as a one-stop shop for families as well as financial professionals and program administrators. It has information about laws, regulations and product offerings in each state.
To date, 35 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation regarding ABLE accounts, but each are in varying degrees of implementation. The first offering is expected to be available as soon as March.
A change to federal tax law late last year allows people with disabilities to take advantage of accounts offered by any state, no matter where they live. Each state program is thought to be unique which means that one program or another could be advantageous to different individuals depending on their circumstances.
This is where the resource center could really come in handy for families. The site will be able to compare one program to another by using a list of 15 to 20 variables that beneficiaries and families would want to take into consideration when choosing a program.
So far, the resource center website includes information about the law, ABLE accounts, who qualifies and particulars of each state’s legislation. More information will be added as states begin rolling out their offerings.
Advocates say they expect Ohio, Nebraska, Virginia, Florida and Tennessee to be among the first states to make ABLE accounts available.