ABLE United has provided thousands of Floridians with disabilities a new way to save without affecting government benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. However, there has been one obstacle left that caused many not to open an account.
Federal law allows that when a beneficiary passes away, and after all outstanding Qualified Disability Expenses are paid, a state may file a claim for Medicaid expenditures on their ABLE account. Now, thanks to the signing of HB 6047 on Friday June 7, 2019, Floridians covered by Medicaid no longer need to fear that a Medicaid claim will be filed on their ABLE United accounts. Instead after all Qualified Disability Expenses are paid, leftover funds would go to the individual’s estate.
Florida joined California, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Oregon and other states in passing legislation to clarify that all outstanding funds in an ABLE United account, after Qualified Disability Expenses are paid, should go to the beneficiary’s estate.
ABLE United salutes our elected officials and Governor DeSantis for passing and signing into law this important legislation, which provides increased peace of mind to ABLE United account holders receiving Medicaid and their families.
If Medicaid recovery was holding you back from opening an ABLE United account, now might be the time for you to reconsider investing in a brighter future.
There’s never been a better time to start saving than now.
In this blog series, we’re highlighting the top five questions our customer service team mostly frequently receives. In this final blog post, let’s discuss:
What happens to the funds after the beneficiary passes away?
The beneficiary of an ABLE United account is the individual with the disability and the owner of the account. They may have someone oversee the account as an administrator, such as a parent, guardian, or an authorized individual under power of attorney. Regardless of who is administering the account, it’s important to note that outstanding qualified disability expenses, including funeral and burial, can be paid after death of the beneficiary.
If the beneficiary was not receiving Medicaid benefits, the funds in the account would be included in the beneficiary’s gross estate for federal estate tax purposes.
If the beneficiary was receiving Medicaid benefits, except as required by federal law, the Florida Medicaid program may not file a claim for Medicaid recovery of funds in an ABLE account. Funds in the ABLE account must first be distributed for qualified disability expenses then transferred to the estate of the designated beneficiary. Learn more here.
Federal law requires that each state recover Medicaid expenditures from a Medicaid recipient’s estate under certain circumstances. For more information on Medicaid estate recovery in Florida, visit Florida’s Estate Medicaid Recovery program here.
We recommend contacting ABLE United at 1-888-524-ABLE (2253) if you are aware that an ABLE account holder has passed away.
Thank you for following this blog series on common questions. We hope the information provided has been helpful and has given you a better understanding of ABLE United.
UPDATE: 529 college savings accounts can rollover to ABLE accounts. Click here for more information.
In this blog series, we’re highlighting the questions our customer service team mostly frequently receives. Up next:
Can I rollover funds from a 529 college savings plan (or any tax-advantaged investment account) to an ABLE United account?
Currently, federal law (however, federal legislation moving in Congress would amend this section) only allows ABLE account rollovers from one qualified ABLE Program to another qualified ABLE Program. Therefore, individuals cannot rollover their Florida Prepaid College Plan, Florida 529 College Savings Plan, or any other tax-advantaged investment account such as a Roth-IRA or 401k into an ABLE United account. Current proposed legislation would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code to allow rollovers from qualified college 529 programs to qualified ABLE programs; but this legislation has not passed.
After hearing this information, people often ask, “What can I do with my Florida Prepaid College Plan or Florida 529 Savings Plan if the beneficiary has a disability?”
The good news is many Florida universities and colleges are offering inclusive educational services that provide individuals with intellectual disabilities an academic experience with a vocational focus in which individuals could use their Florida Prepaid Plan or Florida 529 Savings Plan. Additionally, schools have student disability resource centers to ensure reasonable accommodations are provided to help individuals with disabilities obtain a higher education.
Additionally, if the beneficiary of a Florida Prepaid Plan has a disability that would prevent them from attending an eligible educational institution, a notarized request along with a letter from the beneficiary’s physician can be submitted in order to receive a disability refund. Withdrawals from the Florida 529 Savings Plan may be classified as a disability withdrawal, but keep records to validate this type of withdrawal for the Internal Revenue Service in case they ask.
The information provided in this post is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, financial, or legal advice. It is best to consult a professional to discuss your unique situation.
For information on how to rollover funds from an ABLE account into an ABLE United account, contact ABLE United customer service at 1-888-524-ABLE (2253) or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions about The Florida Prepaid College Plan or the Florida 529 Savings Plan, an account specialist can be reached at 1-800-552-GRAD (4723) or by email, email@example.com
Stay tuned as we cover two more commonly asked questions about ABLE United.
We’ve answered one of the questions our customer service team most commonly receives in this blog series. Here’s the next:
What is considered a qualified expense and what is considered a non-qualified expense?
The Federal statute that created ABLE uses the term ‘qualified disability expenses’ and is defined as any expenses related to the eligible individual’s blindness or disability which are made for the benefit of an eligible individual who is the designated beneficiary. These include the following expenses: education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology and personal support services, health, prevention and wellness, financial management and administrative services, legal fees, expenses for oversight and monitoring, funeral and burial expenses, and other expenses. 
Furthermore, the Department of Treasury, which oversees the Internal Revenue Service and would ultimately determine if an expense is qualified or not, proposed  that the qualified disability expenses are for the benefit of the designated beneficiary in maintaining or improving his or her health, independence or quality life. In addition, the term “qualified disability expenses” should be broadly construed to permit the inclusion of basic living expenses and should not be limited to expenses for items for which there is a medical necessity or which provide no benefits to others in addition to the benefit to the eligible individual. For example, if someone uses these funds for a modification to a wheel-chair that is not medically necessary, but would improve the individual’s quality of life, than that would be considered a qualified disability expense. These proposed rules did provide one example: If an individual with a disability uses a smart phone as a safe and effective communication and/or navigation aid, then the expense to maintain that phone, such as the cost of the phone and a cell phone plan, would meet the requirements of a qualified disability expense.
Individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income are still subject to Social Security’s resource and assets rules. For example, an individual receiving SSI can own one vehicle as a primary source of transportation and it not count as a resource. If they were to use their ABLE United account to buy a second car, although it may count as a qualified disability expense, Social Security will consider it a change of resource and would count the newly purchased vehicle as a second vehicle, and therefore it would count towards that individual’s $2,000 resource limit based on the equity value of the vehicle.  For a more detailed list of what SSI counts as a resource consult your local Social Security office or visit https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-resources-ussi.htm.
Regardless of why and how you are using these accounts. It is in your best interest to keep proper documentation and records for all withdrawals from an ABLE United account.
Stay tuned for the next blog post in our series covering the most commonly asked questions about ABLE United.
While some of the questions we receive about ABLE United are specific to an individual’s circumstances, many are questions that most people have, regardless of type of disability, age and financial status. Over the next few weeks, we will provide responses to the top five questions our customer service team receives.
Here’s the first, and most common question:
What is an ABLE Account?
Until recently, individuals receiving federal benefits were restricted in the amount of money they could save ($2,000), effectively preventing them from planning for the future. However, through The Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, these thresholds are no longer a barrier.
The ABLE Act adds section 529A of the Internal Revenue Code allowing each state to create ABLE programs that offer tax-advantaged savings accounts specifically for individuals with disabilities. These savings and investment accounts allow individuals to save money while maintaining eligibility for federal benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. The funds in the account grow tax-free and are intended to be used on qualified expenses covering a wide range of categories including housing, transportation, and basic living expenses.
ABLE accounts provide individuals with disabilities an opportunity they may not have otherwise known. Opportunity for financial independence. Opportunity to live in a better home. Opportunity to partner with friends, family members, and organizations to help them achieve their goals. An ABLE account is so much more than a typical financial tool. It is an opportunity that started when families gathered around a dining room table more than a decade ago to develop a way to help their children without hindering them in the future, an opportunity that will level the playing field, and an opportunity for them to have more than $2,000 in assets. ABLE United accounts make these types of opportunities for individuals with disabilities a reality.
Check back as we cover more commonly asked questions about ABLE United.