Savings For Special Needs Kids

As a parent with a special needs child, I  was excited to learn about ABLE, and wanted to share the information with you.   For those unfamiliar with the program, ABLE United is a not-for-profit managed by the Florida Prepaid College Board, a state agency. FDIC Insured option is available.

ABLE United offers Florida’s version of an ABLE Account, which is a  tax-advantaged savings account for individuals with disabilities and their families created under the ABLE Act.

The purpose of an ABLE account is to allow individuals with disabilities to save for future qualified disability expenses without losing government assistance.  The funds in these accounts will not count against their SSI earnings limit. Previously, these individuals had to maintain assets totaling less than $2,000.00 annually in order to retain their benefits.

ABLE United allows qualified individuals with disabilities to save up to $15,000 a year ($100,000.00 total) in an ABLE account without jeopardizing their eligibility for federally-funded means-tested benefits, such as Social Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. Funds in an ABLE account are disregarded when determining eligibility for Medicaid or SSI; however, housing and non-qualified expenses withdrawn but not spent in the same month do count as a resource.

Eligibility is limited to individuals with significant disabilities with an age of onset of disability before turning 26 years of age.  If you meet the age criteria and are receiving benefits already under SSI and/or SSDI, you are automatically eligible to establish an ABLE account. However, failure to receive SSI and/or SSDI is not an automatic disqualification.

If the individual with special needs is able to work, the “ABLEtoWork” designation on an account will increase his or her annual contribution limit by $12,140.00 to account for earnings. Income earned by the accounts will not be taxed, and contributions to the account can be made by any person. Investment earnings are not taxed as long as money spent from the account is used for “qualified disability expenses.” Contributions must be made using post-taxed dollars and are not tax deductible.

A  third party special needs trust can be used to fund an ABLE account – thereby preserving these benefits for a disabled child while adding creditor protection.  The beneficiary of the ABLE account is the account owner, but his or her authorized legal representative can provide assistance in opening/maintaining the account.

The funds in an account can be used for disability-related expenses that assist the beneficiary in increasing and/or maintaining his or her health, independence or quality of life.  Qualified disability expenses are not required to be medically necessary nor are they limited to expenses that exclusively benefit the disabled individual.

Qualified disability expenses include:

  • Health
  • Education
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Legal Fees
  • Financial Management
  • Employment Training and Support
  • Assistive Technology and Personal Support Services
  • Oversight and Monitoring
  • Funeral and burial
  • Other Expenses Approved by the Treasury Regulations

There is no cost to open or maintain an account; however, there is a $25.00 minimum required balance.  The enrollment process takes approximately 15 minutes and can be done online.


Carol A. Lawson, Esq., 28870 U.S. Hwy 19 #300, Hodusa Towers, Clearwater, FL 33761

Phone: (727) 410-2705;   email:

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