The cost of living is high for anyone. Alabama families with special-needs children, whether they involve physical, developmental or educational issues, discover early on that expenses for those children are even higher and present significant challenges for their lifetimes.

For many, government programs as offered through Social Security or Medicaid, offer support essential to providing a better quality of life for recipients and their families, if they meet eligibility requirements. Since one common requirement is that the person seeking aid can’t own much personal property, balancing the burden can become a challenge for the whole family. Enter the ABLE account.

A potential new resource

Several years ago, Congress passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. Its purpose is to help those with identified disabilities meet financial challenges. In 2015, Alabama passed matching legislation to make ABLE accounts available in our state.

ABLE accounts are a tax-advantaged savings instruments that allow accrual of funds through gifting or other legal means. The money can earn interest and be withdrawn tax-free as long as it is used to cover qualified expenses for a disabled individual. Additionally, accounts can hold up to $100,000 without counting against asset restrictions that government benefits often require for eligibility.

Qualifying expenses

The range of things for which ABLE account funds can be used is broad. Included are such things as housing and transportation. But in the context of this blog, we want to note how these funds can support families of special-needs children meet educational objectives established under individual education plans or 504 plans by providing funds that can be used to pay for:

  • Alternative or private schooling tuition
  • Assistive technologies and associated services
  • Personal support services
  • Legal fees

These are only a few of the things to which ABLE funds can be directed. This law, like so many others, establish rights meant to enhance the education and life prospects of special-needs individuals. Understanding the interplay of all those laws and exercising the rights they extend to optimal effect can be complicated, but consulting with an experienced attorney can make that work easier.