New law is giving more Americans with disabilities access to state-run accounts that allow them to save money without risking their federal disability benefits.
People with disabilities who get need-based public help like Medicaid typically can’t have more than $2,000 to their name and remain eligible for those programs. But ABLE accounts — short for Achieving a Better Life Experience — allow people to save beyond that for disability-related expenses and still qualify for benefits.
Before the new law, only those whose disability developed before age 26 were eligible for ABLE accounts. The ABLE Age Adjustment Act — passed in December — raises that “disability onset” age to 46, allowing more than 6 million more people to qualify beginning in 2026.
Key takeaway: ABLE accounts can let people with disabilities independently save and even crowdfund without losing their public benefits. If your disability began before age 26, you may already qualify. If it began between 26 and 46, you could possibly qualify starting in 2026.
How ABLE accounts help people with disabilities
The Catch-22 of public disability benefits is that putting some money away to build some financial security could mean losing those benefits, which can be crucial for basic needs and assistive devices.
With an ABLE account, you can …
- Deposit $17,000 per year (or more if the account holder has a job) without losing benefits. You can save up to $100,000 without affecting Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. But you can save into the hundreds of thousands of dollars over time without affecting other kinds of benefits.
- Spend independently on what you need. Qualified expenses can be anything from food, housing and transportation to healthcare, personal support and other things that help quality of life. Some ABLE accounts come with a debit card, or you can use a prepaid card (ABLE Visa Card).
- Crowdfund. Friends, relatives, employers — anyone, including yourself — can contribute to your ABLE account.
- Invest. Some ABLE programs offer a range of optional investment options, much like 529 college savings plans.
- Get tax advantages. Money taken out of an ABLE account is tax-free if used for qualified expenses.
Who can qualify for an ABLE account?
You’ll automatically qualify for an ABLE account if your disability began before age 26 (46 starting in 2026) and you’re already receiving SSI or Social Security Disability Insurance.
Other ABLE eligibility facts
- You don’t have to be an SSI or SSDI recipient. If you meet the disability-age requirement, Social Security’s criteria for certified functional limitations and other conditions, you could qualify for an ABLE account.
- You don’t need to contribute a lot of money. State requirements can vary, but generally the initial deposit can be as little as $25 to $50.
How to get an ABLE account
The ABLE National Resource Center offers a lot of guidance on its site, including FAQs on ABLE accounts and advice on how to get started. You can open and manage most ABLE accounts online.
Basics to know about signing up
- State residency — Most ABLE plans allow you to enroll no matter what state you live in. This ABLE account state comparison tool can help you identify and compare potential providers.
- ABLE account features vary — It’s a good idea to get familiar with the different types of ABLE account offerings and use the comparison tool and map tool to shop.
- More to know — The ABLE National Resource Center’s ABLE facts and myths page is a great place to start learning more about things like balance limits and how ABLE accounts differ from Special Needs Trusts or Pooled Income Trusts.