Parents of kids with special needs have so much to think about for their child’s future, but is financial security at the top of their list of worries? With an innovative financial tool called MiABLE, families can save for future disability expenses without negatively impacting benefits.
MiABLE is a program designed to encourage and assist families in saving funds to be used for a wide range of disability expenses without jeopardizing benefits from Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, private insurance and other sources.
Here, we share some of the basics about MiABLE.
The need for a MiABLE account
For decades, disability programs have been linked to poverty-related programs, which meant people with disabilities could never become financially self-sufficient and still qualify for health, medical and income-supporting benefits. “Individuals have been told for a generation never to have more than $2,000 in assets or you will lose access to programs. We have encouraged a segment of the population to remain financially illiterate and not invest and never have more than $2,000,” says Scott de Varona, director of the MiABLE disability savings program with the Michigan Department of Treasury.
Now, with MiABLE, individuals with disabilities can invest and save to build net worth and financial self-sufficiency. MiABLE is a financial product that gives people with disabilities control over their finances without affecting their assistance program eligibility.
Who is MiABLE for?
Individuals are eligible to open and fund a MiABLE account if they become disabled or blind before the age of 26 and are entitled to collect Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income — though they do not need to be receiving either of these benefits to qualify for a MiABLE account. There are some 27,000 different diagnoses and conditions that a person can have to qualify for a MiABLE account. The IRS allows for self-certification with a doctor’s certificate.
Why is it called MiABLE?
In 2015, the Michigan ABLE Act was signed into law after a federal law authorized states to establish tax-advantaged savings programs for individuals with disabilities. The federal law is called Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. Michigan’s law is therefore called MiABLE.
MiABLE is designed to encourage and help families save funds to help individuals with disabilities maintain health, independence and quality of life, and it expands upon the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) that is familiar to many.
Although ADA provides physical access to buildings and other spaces for people with disabilities, it was also designed to provide economic stability for that same population. Until the Stephen Beck Jr. ABLE Act was passed in December 2014, that economic stability portion of the ADA was never enacted. The ABLE Act recognizes the significant costs of living with a disability and allows individuals with disabilities to save for the future through 529A of the IRS Code.
How do you get started?
To enroll in a MiABLE account, start at miable.org. Take the eligibility quiz to make sure you qualify. Then, set up a username and password. This is an important step, because it means you will be able to save your information — if you need to find details that you don’t immediately have with you, for example — and come right back to your account at a later time.
Parents, guardians, spouses, siblings, grandparents, representative payees and powers of attorney can open an account on a beneficiary’s behalf, if needed. Through MiABLE, account owners can even create an optional public profile that allows them to receive tax-deductible donations from family members, loved ones, friends and other people in a crowdfunding model. MiABLE members do not need to live in Michigan to have an account; they need only meet the eligibility requirements.