Florida established one of the first ABLE programs in the nation. It’s called ABLE United, and it’s for Florida residents only. See below for details about Florida’s ABLE United.
ABLE accounts are bank accounts that allow people with special needs to save money without jeopardizing their disability benefits. ABLE accounts come from the federal ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act, but they are established and managed on a state level.
Not all states have ABLE accounts (yet), and each state will have slightly different rules and procedures for opening and using an ABLE account.
When people with special needs apply for disability benefits, they must show that they do not have enough money to support themselves independently. Any money a person has in a traditional bank account count against that person’s ability to qualify for disability benefits.
As a result, people with special needs are not able to build savings with the money they earn or that they receive through inheritance or gifts. On a day-to-day basis, this means that people with special needs must live with very little money if they want to receive government aid.
One workaround for this issue is to use a special needs trust which provides a place to save money that can be used for the benefit of the person with special needs (without affecting his or her eligibility for benefits). But special needs trusts must be controlled by a trustee – not by the person with special needs who benefits from the trust. Not only does this leave a person with special needs with little control over his or her finances, it also limits the person’s independence.
ABLE accounts fill this gap by giving people with special needs the opportunity to manage a modest bank account without penalty against their eligibility for SSI, Medicaid, or other government benefits.
The basic rules for all ABLE accounts come from the federal ABLE Act. (Read the federal act here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/647/). When states adopt and implement the ABLE Act, they must follow the federal rules and can also add their own rules and regulations. Here are some of the federal rules:
Here are some details about Florida’s ABLE account.
In addition to the $15,000 annual contribution, if you're working, you can contribute the lessor of 1) your annual salary before tax or 2) up to $12,140 unless you or your employer contribute to your defined contribution plan, deferred compensation plan, or an annuity. Read more about these rules here.
A change in Florida law in 2019 abolished Medicaid recovery from ABLE accounts. Any remaining funds in an ABLE account must first be used for qualified disability expenses (including burial and funeral costs) and then transferred to the account holder's estate.
You can learn about and compare ABLE accounts across the country at the website for the ABLE National Resource Center.