How to Access and Use Funds in an ABLE Account
The passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act in 2014 introduced a new way for eligible people with disabilities to save, invest, and spend money. ABLE Accounts offer a number of benefits for those who qualify — from being able to make everyday purchases without compromising eligibility for certain public benefits programs, like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), to being able to invest in a tax-advantaged account and save for long-term expenses.
Enrolling in an ABLE Account
The ABLE Act allows states to establish tax-advantaged programs for individuals with disabilities, similar to 529 college savings accounts or 401(k) retirement accounts. If you have a qualifying disability and meet the ABLE Act’s age requirement (onset of disability must be before turning 26 years of age as of January 2023), you are eligible to establish an ABLE account. Most states have an ABLE program, but even if your state doesn’t have its own program, many ABLE programs allow out-of-state residents to open accounts.
ABLE accounts offer some similar features to typical bank accounts, but they are considered an investment account, not a checking or savings account. When you open an ABLE account, most programs will ask you to choose from a range of investment options that vary by risk, often including an FDIC-insured option. What’s valuable about ABLE accounts is that they allow individuals to build assets through savings and investments while also being able to withdraw and spend funds when they need to.
Spending money from an ABLE Account
True Link partners with several ABLE programs (see full list below) to provide a True Link Visa®️ Prepaid Card to their participants. To use ABLE Account funds, the account holders and/or their Authorized Legal Representatives (ALRs) can move funds from the ABLE Account onto the True Link Visa Card and then use the Visa card to make purchases everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.
Being able to spend money independently from an ABLE Account can also have a big impact on quality of life. The combination of fewer spending restrictions with ABLE Accounts and the ability to make purchases for themselves, can give individuals with disabilities more financial autonomy and personal freedoms than they’ve had before.
Keeping records of expenses
It’s important that ABLE Account holders maintain good records of how they’re using their funds in case they need to demonstrate that funds were used for qualifying disabilities expenses (QDEs). True Link makes it easy to keep track of these expenses in one place and pull records of purchases. Within the online platform, ABLE Account holders can upload receipts or leave notes about purchase details.
Managing spending money as an Authorized Legal Representative
If you’re an ALR who helps an individual with disabilities manage their funds, using a prepaid card like True Link’s can have additional benefits. The True Link platform provides electronic recordkeeping of all transactions and can allow an ALR designated by the individual to see where and when purchases were made, as well as receive alerts on certain transactions.
And as an ALR, you can order a Visa card for yourself to make purchases for the beneficiary, a Visa card for the beneficiary, or both. True Link’s platform can be used to set up separate balances and spending controls, so you can decide how and where funds can be used.
True Link-supported ABLE Accounts
As of January, participants in these ABLE programs can sign up for a Visa card from True Link:
- ABLE for All Savings Plan (Oregon)
- ABLE United (Florida)
- Alabama ABLE
- Maryland ABLE
- Oregon ABLE Savings Plan
- STABLE (Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming)
- Washington State ABLE
Additionally, if you have an ABLE Account through another provider or state, you may still be able to use a True Link Visa Card to access and spend these funds.
True Link Visa Cards for ABLE Account holders are just one of the ways True Link supports people with disabilities; we are dedicated to providing life-changing financial solutions to this community. In fact, the Social Security Administration now provides guidelines in the Program Operations Manual System (POMS) for using True Link Visa Cards to make disbursements from special needs/supplemental needs trusts for beneficiaries who receive SSI.