By Ben Temin
Ask most parents to make a list of things they want to do for their children, and saving for the future will surely make the top 10. While many open a 529 college savings plan, it’s not so easy for parents of children with disabilities. They must make sure an account in their child’s name doesn’t impact Social Security payments or other government funding that child might be receiving.
Millions of families were facing this dilemma until Steven Beck, Jr. did something about it. When Beck’s daughter Natalie was born with Down Syndrome, he realized he wouldn’t be able to save for her financial future the same way he was saving for her older sister. So, he helped create the Achieve a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE), which was signed into law by President Obama in 2014. Since that time, individual states have been setting up their own ABLE savings programs. Governor Hogan signed Maryland ABLE into law on in 2016. Although it’s been around for a few years, many people don’t know about this option which is operated by Maryland 529.
Essentially, the ABLE Account is a savings account for people with qualifying disabilities that has important tax advantages, is user friendly, and does not interfere with means-tested benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Here are some highlights:
- No taxes on earnings while the funds are in the account, or upon withdrawal to pay for expenses such as medical bills, school tuition, housing, and job-related costs
- Easy to set up and easy access to funds with a pre-paid debit card
- Can contain up to $100,000 before impacting SSI and other means-tested benefits
Sadly, Mr. Beck passed away before the law was signed, but the ABLE Account remains a remarkable legacy that has impacted many lives.
Learn more about the Maryland ABLE program and other valuable resources by attending “Shifting from School to Adulthood,” a free four-part program to help parents and caregivers of children with disabilities navigate the transition. In conjunction with Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month, the sessions take place each Thursday in February, 1:00 – 2:30 pm at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC, 5700 Park Heights Avenue. For more information and to RSVP: 410-843-7353 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 7 – Meaningful Day Overview
Explanation of changes regarding DDA funded Services
February 14 – What’s Next
Strategies for planning your child’s transition to adulthood
February 21 – Maryland ABLE Program
Financial advice for saving and spending
February 28 – Why Work is not a Four Letter Word
Understanding the Difference between SSI and SSDI
Ben Temin is a Career Coach for the JCS Career Center.
The JCS Career Center provides a variety of services to help job seekers of all abilities and skill levels find and maintain employment, and assists employers in hiring and sustaining a strong workforce.
JCS, a comprehensive human services agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, provides a broad array of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. Offices are located in Baltimore City and Baltimore County.