Can people with disabilities save money without losing benefits?

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Find out how the ABLE Act allows certain people with disabilities to start saving without fear of losing means based benefits.
Find out how the ABLE Act allows certain people with disabilities to start saving without fear of losing means-based benefits.

This blog post is sponsored by ABLEnow but I do not promote products or services I don’t believe in.

I have a son. My son has Asperger’s, a developmental disability that impacts social functioning and, sometimes, judgment. I knew that something was wrong when he was a little tiny human. He avoided direct eye contact. He experienced developmental, behavioral, and speech delays. Daniel didn’t talk regularly until he was almost four years old. At the time, I didn’t realize that this would become a lifelong problem for him.

In the mid-1990’s, a psychologist diagnosed him with Asperger’s, a relatively unheard of disorder then. Thanks to lots of hard work on his part, his teachers, and supportive family assistance, he graduated from high school with a mainstream diploma.

Daniel in Cap and Gown - ABLEnow enables people like my son to save for their futures.
Daniel graduated from high school with a mainstream diploma thanks to hard work and determination

He’s an adult now and lives on his own. However, he still needs assistance at times. For example, I am his representative payee for social security. He depends on his SSI benefits to live independently, and I manage his funds. But, even under my cautious eye, these benefits rarely leave him much left over for other necessities.

As his representative payee, in addition to ensuring that he spends money appropriately, I also watch that he doesn’t accrue too much in savings, or they may reduce his social security payments. Saving for a reliable vehicle is nearly impossible. He also wants to go through vocational rehabilitation training, which also requires money.

He has a natural affinity for animals and would enjoy working as a veterinary assistant, but that requires training.

However, I found out about a law called the ABLE Act that enables people in my son’s situation to save money they need for transportation, medical necessities, and other needs without worrying about penalties!

Groups like The Arc, Autism Speaks, and NDSS advocated for this law allowing people with disabilities to save more money for daily essentials without impacting their benefits. In response, in 2014, Congress passed the bill amending the tax code allowing people with disabilities to create tax-free savings accounts called ABLE Accounts. These savings supplement, but do not replace, other subsidies like Medicaid or SSDI. And the best part is, family members can contribute to my son’s account and invest in his future.

ABLE is an acronym:

Achieving
Better
Life
Experience

Setting Up an ABLEnow Account

ABLEnow is a program that administers ABLE Accounts.  And it’s so easy to sign up. Visit the ABLEnow site, and take their short quiz to see if you or your child is eligible. While ABLEnow isn’t the only ABLE account program, they are one of the country’s fastest-growing ABLE programs with accounts in all 50 states. Unlike the program my state runs, ABLEnow includes a debit card for easy fund access. Virginia529, the largest college savings plan in the United States, manages ABLEnow, but they have expanded their mission to meet the needs of people with disabilities.

Even though it’s administered by the Commonwealth of Virginia, ABLEnow is available to eligible individuals in every state.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is sponsored by ABLEnow but I do not promote products or services I don’t believe in.

AD My son wants to go to school, but has a disability and receives social security. He is concerned that saving for his future will cause him to lose it. Learn about a program that put his mind at ease and allows him, and our family, to save for his long-term and short-term needs.
My son wants to go to school, but has a disability and receives social security. He is concerned that saving for his future will cause him to lose it. Learn about a program that put his mind at ease and allows him, and our family, to save for his long-term and short-term needs.
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Happily married to the love of my life. It's just us, our 5 cats, and our beautiful woods. I'm loving living back in the Florida panhandle being close to family. I love cooking, living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of our cozy home, and trying new things.

We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.

Alicia Taylor

Happily married to the love of my life. It's just us, our 5 cats, and our beautiful woods. I'm loving living back in the Florida panhandle being close to family. I love cooking, living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of our cozy home, and trying new things.

We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.

81 Comments

  • Louise x

    February 16, 2018 - 9:24 am

    ABLEnow sounds like a really great program. I think everyone should be able to save for their future no matter what.

    Louise x

  • flora

    February 16, 2018 - 9:23 am

    It’s unbelievable that people with disabilities are penalised for saving money… shameful. I’m glad, though that you found this program! I hope he’ll be able to make his dream come true. 🙂

  • Lauren Stewart

    February 14, 2018 - 8:20 am

    What blessing you were able to find this program! So many mother’s are going to be able to help their children because of this post sharing the information. I hope your son is able to pursue his dreams with animal care! Blessings to you all.

  • Charlotte

    February 13, 2018 - 11:17 pm

    I can only imagine how difficult it is to save money and not go over his benefits. This sounds like a wonderful program that can give freedom to so many people.

  • Arielle Joy

    February 13, 2018 - 10:40 pm

    This isn’t something that ever occurred to me as a potential issue but I’m happy to hear there’s a viable option to help those in need

  • Nadia

    February 13, 2018 - 10:25 pm

    It is terrible that people who truly deserve disability assistance are penalized for trying to be responsible. That act is such a good idea for people who try to do so. I wonder if more people are aware of this.

  • Tanvi

    February 13, 2018 - 8:28 pm

    Congratulation to both of you. This is a huge achievement. Although, I have to mention that I had no idea about ABLEnow. I am glad to learn that such programs exist. Thank you for sharing.

  • Ayana Christine Nell

    February 13, 2018 - 8:27 pm

    Ugh! How incredibly frustrating that you get penalized for SAVING money! That makes me angry for both of you! I’m glad you’ve found a program that allows you and your son to save funds up. It’s great that there are organizations out there fighting for situations like this. I hope your son goes on to be super successful doing what he loves!!

    • Alicia Taylor

      February 14, 2018 - 12:30 pm

      Thank you 🙂 Yes, it does get frustrating. For people with expensive medial needs, it’s even more prohibitive when you cannot save money for needed care

  • thecandiecorner

    February 13, 2018 - 5:23 pm

    Congratulations on graduating Daniel! That’s such an amazing accomplishment in life. I’m also really glad to hear that there are such programs out there to help with saving money. I can imagine how much harder it must be having the extra expenses!

  • Leo T. Ly

    February 13, 2018 - 4:16 pm

    The ABLE act is a fret act to assist individual with disabilities to save for their future. It’s great that family members can contribute and provide assistance without fearing of loss benefits to the individual.

  • Nati

    February 13, 2018 - 3:06 pm

    I had no idea that such a program existed! In fact I don’t think there is anything similar in my country, ut the US are definitely ahead of the rest of the world in these matters.

  • Kim Lee

    February 13, 2018 - 11:07 am

    This is such an important topic for those facing these challenges. I will definitely share with some friends, I know could benefit!

  • Ithfifi Williams

    February 13, 2018 - 10:41 am

    I’d like to say a huge congrautlations to both you and Daniel on his diploma and all he has achieved. He sounds very deterrmined and that is amazing. I am glad he has you to look out for him in terms of his financial support. Its not something I know much about but I know here in the UK a lot of people who derserve benefits and money just don’t get it. I think organisations are important and I am glad that they are inplace.

  • Sue Tanya Mchorgh

    February 13, 2018 - 8:38 am

    Congrats Daniel. Graduating high school is a very big deal . I love this post. I found it very informative.

  • Rebecca Bryant

    February 13, 2018 - 8:06 am

    First let me say congrats to Daniel fro graduating high school. That is so awesome. As for this saving thing I as a disabled woman truly appreciated this information. I am always trying to find ways to save and not lose my monthly benefits that we rely on for bills.

    • Alicia Taylor

      February 13, 2018 - 11:26 am

      I agree. Be sure to take their 4 question quiz to make sure you qualify. And Daniel worked very hard to get ahead.

  • Emily Leary

    February 13, 2018 - 6:25 am

    Congratulations to Daniel on graduating from High School! It sounds like the ABLE Act is a huge step forward for people with disabilities.

  • Garrile Blog

    February 13, 2018 - 4:36 am

    Congratulations on graduating! That is huge! ABLEnow is such an amazing program and Iit’s really empowering to see how they can truly improve the lives of kids 🙂 Best of luck to you guys!

  • Melanie Poulos Walsh

    February 13, 2018 - 12:08 am

    It’s hard not to worry about your kids. I appreciate knowing that I can help my special needs child now to ensure she’s always covered. The idea of leaving her is hard enough without having to stress that she will struggle with money.

    • Alicia Taylor

      February 13, 2018 - 11:28 am

      Yes. I am still my son’s Social Security representative even though he lives on his own. If something happens to me, I would like him to be prepared.

  • Ophelia T

    February 12, 2018 - 10:08 pm

    This is such a great program for people with disabilities. I love your post and it is so informative. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jennifer L

    February 12, 2018 - 10:06 pm

    Wow this is incredible! I’m so happy that there is a resource like ABLE Act that does enable individuals and families with disabilities to have more financial freedom. I know friends who would benefit from this so will be passing on the information.

  • Jillian

    February 12, 2018 - 9:49 pm

    Thank you for sharing such an informative article and congrats on his graduating! Blessings as you move forward in the journey.

  • Stephanie

    February 12, 2018 - 9:38 pm

    What an amazing program! I am sharing this with my mom because she teaches the special needs students in high school so this would be so great for them and their parents!

  • Adriana Martin

    February 12, 2018 - 9:09 pm

    There is this false idea that people with disabilities cannot conquer their dreams. What a nice story about Daniel such an inspiration for everyone including the younger people that are perfectly healthy and despite of that their choices somtimes are not to take care of their future by studying.

  • Alecia @ CSNY

    February 12, 2018 - 8:49 pm

    It’s awful how tricky assistance programs are about money. My boyfriends mother is in a care home with MS and his family has to constantly juggle to make sure they don’t have too much money or they lose assistance for her expensive care. This is a great opportunity for you son, I hope he finds a career with animals hat he loves!

    • Alicia Taylor

      February 13, 2018 - 11:30 am

      Thank you, Alecia. It is aweful to be on constant eggshells. Care for illness, disability, and even life is expensive. I think the laws on how much you can save are ridiculously low all things considered. Thankfully, there are some options.

  • Christine

    February 12, 2018 - 8:31 pm

    Excellent information. I see this in the healthcare system all the time in a variety of ways – people not able to get services they need because they have too much money. In reality, the definition of too much money in these cases is absolutely ridiculous. Thank you for sharing.

    • Alicia Taylor

      February 13, 2018 - 11:33 am

      Thank you, Christine. I agree. You cannot save enough to get a car that doesn’t break down all the time. If you need a special vehicle, it’s hard to save for that. If you need expensive medical care, you practically go broke paying for it because you cannot save. I hope ABLEnow is able to help a lot of people.

  • Vivian

    February 12, 2018 - 8:22 pm

    I had absolutely no idea that accruing savings would negatively impact social security payments for people with disabilities… sounds slightly counter intuitive. Loved hearing about ABLEnow and the work they’re doing to help people just like your son~

  • Melissa Chapman

    February 12, 2018 - 7:05 pm

    It is amazing in this society that saving and hard work actually penalize a person who needs all the help they can get. I hope your son finds his calling and gets all the assistance he requires.

  • Angela

    February 12, 2018 - 6:55 pm

    Such an interesting article. I do believe that people with disabilites can save money too.

  • Kate

    February 12, 2018 - 6:27 pm

    Would he be able to work for cash under the table or with a 1099 tax form?

    • Alicia Taylor

      February 13, 2018 - 11:35 am

      I’m pretty sure cash under the table still has to be claimed on taxes. However, if he were capable of working, he wouldn’t qualify for Social Security. It’s a program for disabled people unable to work.

  • reesa

    February 12, 2018 - 6:25 pm

    This is some great information that I am sure can be a very stressful subject for parents of children with disabilities. Thank you for sharing!

  • Tee

    February 12, 2018 - 5:52 pm

    This was a great read. I have never thought of it that way. Very true that it would very hard to save or plan for a future. Good luck to him and yourself 🙂

  • Kesha Holloway

    February 12, 2018 - 5:14 pm

    You are an amazing mom! The thought of having a child with disabilities goes through every parent’s heard when you are carrying them. To actually experience this is incredible. This is such an important topic and more people need to know what resources are available to them.

    • Alicia Taylor

      February 13, 2018 - 11:38 am

      Thank you 🙂 I’m not really an amazing mom. Most days, I feel like I completely failed. Both my sons have grown into sweet, respectful, men. So, I guess I didn’t too bad, but they definitely didn’t have an easy childhood, disability aside. But that’s a topic for another post – and thank you so much for your kind comment.

  • Beth Davidson

    February 12, 2018 - 5:14 pm

    What a helpful post. My kids are still babies, but you know moms worry about everything, so I’m glad to know there are resources out there if I do need them.

  • Evelyn

    February 12, 2018 - 4:44 pm

    What a wonderful program that serves those who need it. My blessings to you for your BIG love and for raising awareness of this condition. Your son is beautiful

  • Angela

    February 12, 2018 - 3:55 pm

    I think it’s terrible that the benefits are decreased if one has too much in savings. Glad there’s programs out there that allow for it and now I am curious if a similar thing exists in Canada.

  • Ashley

    February 12, 2018 - 3:23 pm

    This is an important post for those with disabilities. I had no idea how saving money could make you lose benefits if you aren’t careful.

  • Stephanie Jeannot

    February 12, 2018 - 2:56 pm

    I like that he is able to experience a better life experience through these programs. I really appreciate that you shared this with us. Your son is so blessed to have you in his life.

  • Jakub

    February 12, 2018 - 12:55 pm

    It’s great to know that your son graduated from high school with a full blown diploma and can live on his own. It’s definitely important to have programs that can help children and families with disabilities!

    • Alicia Taylor

      February 12, 2018 - 1:00 pm

      It was a lot of work – and a lot of trepidation – but we got through it. I am also thankful for programs like this.

  • kuma monjeng

    February 12, 2018 - 9:55 am

    I have never heard about Asperger’s and glad I have learn from this post. Thank you for sharing your son story and reach out to more people who are not aware of the support program.

  • Michelle

    February 12, 2018 - 9:51 am

    Your son has the most beautiful, soulful eyes Alicia. I honestly didn’t even consider how incredibly difficult it must be to save money and not lose disability benefits. Somehow that seems so wrong especially when you have someone who has coped and achieved so much. I am so glad that there’s a program like ABLEnow. Wishing Daniel everything that’s beautiful and right in the world

  • David Elliot

    February 10, 2018 - 8:34 pm

    This is great. I will have to point this out to my ex and my ex father in law. Both are on disability and they didn’t believe they could save money. Good to know they fixed the law so they could for necessities.

  • Yeimi Santana

    February 10, 2018 - 7:43 pm

    Excellent information. Everyone with family members with a disability should see this, as it is a challenge to save without sacrificing the aid allocated to the disabled. Thanks for sharing.

  • Sheena Tatum

    February 10, 2018 - 7:30 pm

    This is such an amazing post. I had no idea who to look for for some of these amazing benefits. Great to know for sure!

  • Betzy Cuellar

    February 9, 2018 - 8:20 pm

    Congratulations! These type of stores are so empowering to me.

  • Lavanda

    February 9, 2018 - 5:37 pm

    Aw, congratulations on your sons graduation! I have never heard of the ABLEnow program, but I am happy it is available and you are able to save. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nicole

    February 9, 2018 - 3:21 pm

    I have never heard of ABLEnow before, but it seems like something great that is helping your family and many others. Congratualtiosn to your son on his accomplishments! It’s amazing the things we can do with hardwork and determination!

  • Sarah Bailey

    February 9, 2018 - 12:45 pm

    Congratulations to you son! ABLE sounds like a good thing to be helping people save. I know over here you can have a certain amount of savings before your benefits are taken away from you.

  • Emmanuel

    February 9, 2018 - 12:10 pm

    Congratulations to your son’s graduation. I really believe in equal opportunities irregardless of disability.

  • LaToyia

    February 9, 2018 - 11:40 am

    Had not heard of ABLEnow but I love how it is helping you and others. Great post!

  • AnnMarie John

    February 9, 2018 - 2:11 am

    Such a bright future for your son and ABLEnow will help him work towards his dreams without worrying about being able to save. I think this program is brilliant and very helpful!

  • cristina

    February 9, 2018 - 1:17 am

    This is a great program. It is a great help for those in need and help parents to relax a little bit. I hope he will become an veterinary assistant. It’s such a beautiful job.

  • Dee Dee

    February 8, 2018 - 10:33 pm

    There’s so much great information here. I love the benefits of this program.

  • Karen

    February 8, 2018 - 6:41 pm

    It’s vital that they save money for their future and programs like ABLEnow will definitely help them achieve that. I’m glad you came across this program to help Daniel get the future that he deserves.

  • Marie Sheila

    February 8, 2018 - 5:51 pm

    ABLEnow provides a great service for people with disabilities. Now, they are given the opportunity for a better future. A big thumbs up! I wonder if there are programs like this in my country. It would be a great help to many.

  • Corinne and Kirsty

    February 8, 2018 - 5:12 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful and much needed programme. Saving money is essential and it is great to know that disable people have options. Congats on your son’s graduation!

  • Amber

    February 8, 2018 - 3:05 pm

    I have heard about this and I’m looking into it for my son, who also has autism. He’s about to turn 16 and I honestly do not know what will happen when he’s done with high school. He doesn’t drive and I’m not sure if he ever will. I’m not sure if he’ll live independently or not. I hope so. I know he wants to. He does not get social security payments at the moment.

  • Lisa Rios

    February 8, 2018 - 8:36 am

    This is a wonderful program. I’m glad you are able to help your son succeed through ABLE… you’re a good mom

  • Sian

    February 8, 2018 - 8:35 am

    Fantastic article thats very informative. I hope more people with children that have disabilities can see this and learn from it.

  • Esme Sy

    February 7, 2018 - 3:28 pm

    I am touched by these programs that specialize helping people like Daniel. It breaks my heart that a lot of them do not even receive proper rights and attention. I really love what ABLE stands for, exactly like what it is!

  • Ann Banner

    February 7, 2018 - 2:56 pm

    This sounds like a great program! Glad you found a way to help your son achieve his best life.

  • Eva Phan

    February 7, 2018 - 2:48 pm

    This is something that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought through, but is definitely so so important! ABLEnow sounds like a really incredible program!

  • Elizabeth O

    February 7, 2018 - 12:05 pm

    This is an inspiring post, definitely a great read for anyone who is looking to utilise AbleNow, which sounds like a great program! Well done to your son on graduating!

    • Alicia Taylor

      February 7, 2018 - 12:18 pm

      Thank you 🙂 He graduated a few years ago – but he was almost 22 when he finally completed school. ABLEnow is a wonderful program and I am glad it is available.

  • Autumn

    February 7, 2018 - 8:23 am

    What a great article that will help other families with disabled children know their options. I wish your son all the best in his future.

  • Angela

    February 7, 2018 - 7:20 am

    We have several people in our family and in our close friends cicrle that have struggled for so long because they fall in the gap where they can only have limited funds or risk loosing needed medical assistance and other assistance. I am so very excited to hear that they have programs that will allow for them to be able to do the things they need to without risking the assistance they HAVE to have to live productive lives. Thank you so much Alicia for not only sharing your story but also sharing the ABLE program. I hope this will help many people that are not familiar

  • Drew

    February 7, 2018 - 4:55 am

    That is wonderful that your son is now able to save for his education! I hadn’t heard of ABLEnow accounts before this. Thank you for sharing!

  • Nicola

    February 7, 2018 - 4:06 am

    It’s so wonderful that you’re able to think ahead and ensure he has a bright future like this! He’s very lucky to have you 🙂

  • lucicoo

    February 7, 2018 - 1:11 am

    That is really great that he wants to go to school. I feel that he should be able to save money and it wouldn’t hurt him.

  • dgutkowski

    February 6, 2018 - 7:29 pm

    That’s a fantastic resource that everyone should know about who depend on benefits! Thank you for sharing this! It’s hard to find out information when you’re on the outside, or just diagnosed, or just uninformed.

  • Megan B

    February 6, 2018 - 7:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing this post, I think it’s important for people to know about this and know what their options are.

  • Emily Fata

    February 6, 2018 - 3:43 pm

    First off — congratulations to your son on graduating! I just graduated myself and know it’s no easy feat. 🙂

    That being said, I think that ABLEnow is an incredible program that all families with disabilities should consider to help with saving money in a way that doesn’t necessarily impede on essential means-based benefits.

    • Alicia Taylor

      February 6, 2018 - 6:55 pm

      I was definitely excited to find out about it.

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