Georgia STABLE – Georgia's Savings Plan for People with Disabilities
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News Alert! Georgia STABLE Accounts Launched
June 14, 2017 - Atlanta, GA - Governor Nathan Deal announced the launch of the Georgia STABLE program today at the Georgia State Capitol. The program allows Georgians with disabilities and their families to create tax-deferred savings accounts without giving up critically needed Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
Georgia joins the Ohio STABLE program, along with Kentucky, Vermont and Missouri. STABLE accounts are open to eligible individuals nationally and will cost $42 per year with a small asset-based fee. The accounts allow individuals to invest up to $14,000 a year. Individuals can also withdraw the money to pay for qualified disability expenses such as education, employment training and support, housing, health and wellness, transportation, personal support services and other approved expenses.
“This is a chance for Georgians with disabilities to be able to save their own money and invest it in a way that will allow more opportunities for them to live, work and contribute to their local communities,” said Eric Jacobson, executive director of the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD). “Georgia STABLE will be a major way to meet their financial needs and goals.”
The savings program opens a year after Gov. Deal signed Georgia’s Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. The law allows individuals with disabilities and their families to contribute to a tax-exempt savings account that can be used for maintaining health, independence and quality of life.
For more information on the Georgia STABLE program, visit http://georgiastable.com
HISTORY OF THE ABLE ACT
An ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) account is a savings account that will allow people with disabilities to save money for qualified disability expenses without violating the $2,000 asset limits that apply to eligibility for Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It is limited to individuals with significant disabilities who became disabled before age 26.
Congress passed the ABLE legislation in 2014 with broad bipartisan support.
Georgia passed its ABLE act (HB 768) during the 2016 legislative session but is still working on implementing the startup of these accounts in Georgia. The plan is for Georgia to join the Ohio STABLE program.
21 states have now established ABLE Programs. 17 are available to eligible Georgia residents.
The best source of information about the range of available programs can be found at the ABLE National Resource Center: http://www.ablenrc.org/
For a State of Georgia contact for the ABLE program, contact the Office of the State Treasurer: Kim Asher at 404.656.2168.
ABLE ACT FACTS
ABLE Accounts allow savings to pay for critical and expensive qualified disability related expenses:
- Employment training and support
- Health and wellness
- Personal support services
- Financial management and administrative services
- Legal fees
- Funeral and burial expenses
How can the ABLE Act help me?
- As of May 2017, 21 states have established state ABLE Programs so people can open ABLE accounts.
- ABLE accounts allow people with disabilities to save money without losing eligibility for critical public benefit programs.
- Medicaid and SSI set eligibility asset limits for an individual with a disability at $2,000. This limits opportunities for independence.
- ABLE accounts allow for savings above the $2,000 asset limit for disability related expenses such as housing, employment support, education, and personal support.
- An individual is limited to a single ABLE account.
- ABLE accounts may NOT exceed the Georgia 529 limit of $235,000.
- ABLE accounts may be useful with or instead of Special Needs Trusts.
- Individuals with a serious disability occurring prior to age 26 may open an ABLE account.
- Total annual contributions are capped at the annual federal gift tax limit of $14,000. Account contributions are not tax deductible for federal tax purposes or for state income tax purposes in Georgia.
- SSI is suspended for beneficiaries with accounts exceeding $100,000, but Medicaid eligibility remains intact.
- Income earned by accounts and withdrawals for qualified expenses are not taxable.
- Withdrawals for non-qualified expenses are taxed plus a 10% penalty.
- When the beneficiary dies, Medicaid can collect remaining account assets to reimburse Medicaid for payments made from the date the ABLE account was created.
Information provided by: Elizabeth J. Appley, Esq. Attorney at Law