ABLE Account Bill Survives FunnelMonday, April 5, 2021
In 2014, Congress passed and President Obama signed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act to give individuals with disabilities and their families more options to save for future expenses that are not covered by Medicaid or Social Security Income (SSI). Before that, families could set up Special Needs Trusts or Supplemental Needs Trusts to help pay for these expenses, but they require a court visit for even the smallest of expenses. While there is more oversight for these accounts, they make it difficult for families that cannot retain a lawyer everytime they want to use these funds. ABLE Accounts, which have been available in Iowa for five years now, are more flexible and allow individuals or their designees to withdraw funds to help pay for unreimbursed expenses related to work, living, or school.
The Iowa Legislature wants to make sure more Iowans can take part in these savings account by saving House File 835 from the funnel. The bill, which allows people to transfer funds from older trusts into an ABLE account and protects the funds from being recovered by Medicaid upon the death of the account owner, is now ready for Senate debate. If it passes the Senate without amendment, it will go straight to the Governor. If it is amended in the Senate, it will go back to the House (which can agree to the change, make more changes, or insist on their version). The bill passed the House unanimously last week, despite a fiscal note saying it may cost the state millions if the state cannot recover Medicaid expenses from the estate of an ABLE account owner. Sen. Mark Costello (R-Imogene) is the Senate floor manager, which means he will be the lead in getting the bill passed in the Senate.
On March 25, the State Treasurer of Iowa Michael Fitzgerald announced that Iowa now has 1,000 individuals with disabilties saving with Iowa ABLE. "I am pleased to see more Iowans with disabilities and their families who are saving with IAble to pay for qualified expenses while maintaining their essential benefits. As we reach this milestone, it makes me more committed to ensuring individuals with disabilities use the program to achieve their version of a better life experience."
Individuals with IAble accounts can save above the $2,000 resource limit without risking their eligibility for SSI and Medicaid. Account owners can safe for expenses such as housing, food, assistive technology and transportation. Family, friends, and others that contribute to the account for the individual can deduct up to $3,474 in contributions in 2021 (this amount changes each year) - but they can put more in without the deduction. The average IAble account is $8,480 and the total saved by these 1,000 account holders is over $8.7 million!
"I wish I could individually congratulate each of the 1,000 account owners for taking the step towards financial freedom," said Fitzgerald. "We're only scraping the surface of the opportunities IAble can provide for an individual with a disability, and I look forward to celebrating more accomplishments from the plan as we continue to grow."
For more information about setting up or contributing to an account, go to IAble.gov or call (888) 609-8910. You can watch for updates and more information by following the Treasurer's posts on Facebook and Twitter.
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