Going back almost two years, you may remember me mentioning in this post that Michigan enacted its version of the ABLE Act (Achieving a Better Life Experience Act).  Although Michigan passed its version of the ABLE Act in October of 2015, you could not form a Michigan ABLE account until just recently. This is because there was no established rule for how the accounts would be regulated and what financial institutions would manage them. Well, I have good news.  The wait is now over – Michigan officially has ABLE accounts.

Why does this matter?  Well, for many years, individuals with disabilities (and their caregivers) have faced a difficult decision if they received money in their own name via inheritance, personal injury settlement, or gift – spend it all, pursue a court-created trust or non-profit “pooled” trust, or risk losing vital government assistance.  As with many things, more choices mean a better chance of a choice that fits your situation.

The ABLE account offers a new, additional option for individuals with special needs.  In short, an ABLE account allows certain people with disabilities to have special savings accounts for disability-related expenses without losing eligibility under SSI, Medicaid, and certain other public benefits.  By putting funds in an ABLE account, those funds are not considered a “resource” for the person with the disability (it does not count against him or her).  There are limits on the contributions to the account: no more than $14,000 per year and no more than $100,000 total.  Anything above the maximum amount is considered a “resource”.  The account funds can be used generally for expenses related to the individual’s disability including education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology and personal support services, legal fees expenses for oversight and monitoring and funeral and burial expenses.  A Michigan ABLE account has a $45 per year fee, plus the investment expense associated with the individual’s chosen investment option(s).  You can find more information, and open an account, at www.miable.org.

It is important to know that an ABLE account is not the solution in every situation.  Other planning strategies are still valid and may be a better option.  The ABLE account is an additional option.  If you have questions about or need help ensuring the maximum benefit and quality of life for a disabled family member or friend, please contact me.  As a Grand Rapids, MI special needs planning attorney, I am happy to help.