ABLE Savings Plans for Disabled

The 529 ABLE plans in the U.S., launched a year ago, are useful for people with disabilities because they provide a tax-free way for themselves, their families or friends to save money for qualified expenses such as education or transportation. They also help protect people with disabilities from losing social security benefits when they cross income thresholds. However, policy makers need to redefine disability and revisit restrictions that existing laws place on people with disabilities from taking employment and becoming independent, experts from Wharton and the University of Texas said.

The 529 ABLE plan is “an important statement and a great opportunity for people with disabilities,” said Lex Frieden, professor of biomedical informatics and physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Texas. “Philosophically, the approach is at least equally as important as the potential impact.” Frieden also directs the Independent Living Research Utilization program at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research at Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston, Texas. He is best known for his contributions to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The ABLE Act, passed in December 2014, amends Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. For many years, 529 plans have helped families save money for college education for their children. The new law allows people to select a plan sponsored by any state, and not just the one in which they live in. This is a useful podcast on the topic: