An Attainable Savings Plan Overview and Q&A for 529 Day

As part of MEFA’s celebration of 529 Day, Director of Attainable® Outreach Adam Hartwell presents an overview of the Massachusetts ABLE Program, Attainable®, and answers questions from agencies and families about the intricacies of the plan. Since the addition of section 529A to the tax code in 2014, which permitted the creation of ABLE accounts, these specialized investment accounts for individuals with disabilities have provided opportunities for financial independence and tax-advantaged saving to eligible participants.

Download a copy of the webinar slides to follow along.


Please note that this transcript was auto-generated. We apologize for any minor errors in spelling or grammar.

[00:00:00] Hello everyone and welcome to this presentation about the attainable program. Uh, my name is Adam Hartwell. I'll be your presenter today. I'm going to share my screen and we'll go over the, the basics of this, uh, of this program.

Uh, just to make sure everybody is familiar with the controls, you are allowed to mute and start and stop videos and what have you. Uh, please feel free to use the Q& A or the chat function in order to ask questions. Uh, I will try to answer questions as we go along. I will also have plenty of time at the end to answer questions in general.

My name is Adam Hartwell. I'm the Director of Attainable Outreach and I work for MIFA. MIFA is the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, which is a state authority that was created in 1982 to [00:01:00] help families plan, save, and pay for college and reach financial goals. When the ABLE programs were announced, we were a natural fit because the 529 programs that are often utilized for saving for college have a lot of similarities to the ABLE program when it was instituted.

The Steven Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE Act, amended the federal tax code in 2014 to add Section 529A. This legislation established what we call ABLE accounts, which are tax exempt investment accounts for eligible individuals with disabilities to be used for what are called Qualified Disability Expenses, or QDEs, while still keeping eligibility for federal public benefits.

That would be SSI, that would be federal housing waivers, anything along those lines. MIFA is the state sponsor. Fidelity Investments is the program manager. So at any point in this uh, presentation, if I mention the program manager, I'm not talking about a residential program manager [00:02:00] or a community program manager.

I'm talking about the financial program manager, in this case Fidelity. There are currently 49 active ABLE programs in the United States of America. You're only allowed to have one ABLE account at a time though. So that's one of the things that we need to make sure people are careful about. In Massachusetts, the accounts from the ABLE Act are called the attainable savings accounts.

The attainable savings plan was launched in 2017. So who is eligible for an attainable account? Individuals are eligible for an attainable account. If the onset of the disability occurred before the individual turned 26 years old. Now we did pass the able age adjustment act. So on January 1 of 2026, that is going to go up to 46 years old, this.

Has no bearing on the current age of an individual. This is age of diagnosis or age when you can get a doctor to say that this condition start, uh, you know, uh, onset. So, you know, if you can say, [00:03:00] yes, so yeah, I'm 72 now, but my doctor says I've had this my whole life, You would be able to qualify for an attainable account.

One of the great benefits of being able to, uh, have that 46 year age changeover is for a lot of individuals who would be qualifying for ABLE accounts due to things like traumatic brain injuries, who, if they got it after age 26, would not be eligible for an attainable account. currently, but will be able to in 2026.

Um, the person should be eligible to receive SSI or SSDI due to that disability, or they're going to self certify as meeting requirements. This requires a diagnosis with functional limitations to things like being able to hold down full time employment, such as those are that are in the Social Security Administration's Blue Book.

We have some of the categories for that listed over here on the right or their compassionate allowances conditions. I do encourage people to take a quick look at this list because we have a tendency to think purely in terms of like developmental disability when it comes to able accounts, but it also is things [00:04:00] like if you have long term cancer recovery, which is impairing your ability to, uh, Do day to day functions, uh, mental health disorders, digestive system disorders, anything like that that's creating those impairments would qualify you for an ABLE account.

Attainable accounts allow the account owner or beneficiary to save above the 2, 000 SSI asset limit without affecting federal benefits. Family and friends are allowed to also contribute to an attainable account. That's one of the ways that it's similar to a 529 college savings account. Anybody can put money in.

Uh, beneficiaries have relatively immediate access to funds. I'm going to put a little asterisk on immediate there because anytime you take money out of a detainable account, it is a small scale investment trade and it can take like 24 hours for that to clear. So you want to just be aware of that when you're utilizing these accounts.

The accounts do provide individuals with financial independence and several tax benefits and we'll go into those a little bit later. [00:05:00] This is one of the most important slides in our entire presentation. Uh, what are the qualified disability expenses that you can use your attainable account to cover?

It's going to be this slide and the one that follows it directly. Uh, that would be anything, uh, as far as education. That includes your tuition, your books. You can use your attainable account to help pay for college. Housing. Uh, the whole next slide is just on housing expenses. Transportation that is not just public transportation.

That's also buying a car. That's also paying for an uber anything transportation related employment training and supports assistive technology and related services. So it's not just the technology itself, but also things like if you already have a iPad, for instance, but you also want to get a augmentative communication application for that iPad, which costs an additional five, 600.

You could buy that app using your able account, uh, health, uh, expenses, prevention and wellness expenses, funeral and burial [00:06:00] expenses, basic living expenses, and personal support services. That's not just one on one community supports. It's also financial management, legal supports, or expenses for able monitoring.

Food is a qualified disability expense that falls under that basic living expenses, and that means any food that you feel like buying, whether that is restaurants or takeout or Uber Eats, groceries, fast food, whatever it is that you choose to spend that money on. Additionally, housing expenses for an ABLE account are sort of similar to the things that you would be thinking about for in kind support and maintenance, but does include mortgage or a house down payment, uh, including the property insurance required by the mortgage holder.

You're allowed to pay your first and last or your general rent payments with your attainable account and your security deposit your real property taxes for clarity. Those are the property taxes on things like the land or the building, the things that don't move when you move that's in, [00:07:00] uh, as opposed to things like personal property taxes, like your computer or something.

Uh, heating fuel, gas, electricity, uh, water and sewer, garbage removal, all those things you are allowed to use your attainable account to pay for. Um, who can open an account? The accounts are allowed to be opened by the individual with the disability themselves, a person with their power of attorney, their legal guardian, their spouse, their parent, their sibling, their grandparent, and as of last year, their rep payee.

Uh, this is sort of a hierarchy, uh, when you are Opening an account, you're essentially declaring that nobody higher than you on the list, uh, wants to or is able to, uh, handle or holds that responsibility. So, um, you know, nobody is, you're not allowed to leapfrog people who want that responsibility just because you want it.

You need to make sure that nobody who's higher than you on the list wants that, that job. [00:08:00] Um, these are a unique account in that the designated beneficiary, the person with the disability, is always considered the owner of the account. Regardless of whether or not somebody else has what is called signature authority over it, the PSA person with signature authority, uh, is the person who controls what the money does and how, you know, withdrawals and deposits and all that kind of stuff so that the PSA is in control of the account.

But the person with the disability is always the owner of the account. And of course, the person with the disability is allowed to also be the PSA should they choose.

Wonderful things about these accounts is they have actually, uh, improved on an almost every year that they have been in existence. So a contribution limits have increased again in 2024 total annual contribution currently cannot exceed 18, 000. If the individual is not working, if they are employed, they can contribute the lesser of their gross [00:09:00] income from their employment or what's the federal poverty guideline, which is currently 14, 580.

Uh, so if you are working and you're making 15, 000 a year, even you are allowed to put 32, 580. into your attainable account each year. The account balance here in Massachusetts, this is one of the things that changes on a state by state level, uh, cannot be added to once it exceeds 500, 000. Uh, these range all over the place from 200, 000 to, you know, we're one of the higher ones at 500, 000.

SSI does not start being affected until you have 100, 000 in the account, which is a nice benefit to go beyond the 2, 000 that exists if you don't have an attainable account. You are not allowed to have an attainable account and a retirement account that is actively being contributed to from your employer at the same time.

There is actually legislation going on right now to allow attainable accounts to be contributed to [00:10:00] instead of retirement accounts. For people who are not Contributing to retirement account. If they're a part time worker, this really doesn't affect them. But if someone is full time and is offered a retirement, you need to choose which of these you want to have actively being contributed to because they have similar tax benefits.

So you're only allowed to have one. There is no annual account maintenance fee here in Massachusetts. That is not true for every state. Um, Attainable accounts are investment accounts, though, and so they have investment fees based on the investment portfolio that you select when you set up the account and those range depending on what type of account you have from 0.

2 percent up to 2. 86 percent of assets. Um, one of the great benefits that we like to look at is, uh, all the different ways that attainable can assist people, uh, without the table act, uh, individuals are currently allowed to only have a 2, 000 portfolio. Pie for all their expenses. Uh, you're a lot of folk are encouraged not to save and if you have a [00:11:00] significant amount of cash flow come in say from Uh your covid stimulus package or your tax Return or something like that or a bonus from work because you did very well Suddenly people can be really in a bad spot because they have to do Those spend downs where they have to get rid of money to get themselves back down to under 2000 Because they need the regular ssi income in order to maintain their Rent and their lives and what have you attainable provides the opportunity for individuals to save for those larger expenses, particularly larger expenses that have to do with housing or transportation like a car or health like a surgery without fear because you can instead of doing a spend down and getting rid of the money, just move it into your attainable account to be a place that you can use it for a need later.

Um, so it can be a very great benefit in that way when it comes to education. Again, you can use your attainable account to pay for tuition, textbooks, assistive technology, one on one assistance, or when people are [00:12:00] going through transition and moving into the adult sphere, if they're thinking about college and what have you, one of the big jarring things that happens is when you're in the high school system.

And before. Everything is teacher initiated. We've, uh, the teacher says, I think the student needs this. We should get it for them. When you get to college and beyond and postgraduate and what have you, all supports tend to be self initiated. You have to go to disability services. You have to let them know what you need.

And then oftentimes you have to, you've gotten approval for that. You need to go to each professor and tell them as well. So this, and a lot of times there's a lot of, uh, Assistance that needs to be privately paid for and attainable can assist with that. Finally, with employment due to the SSI S and the income limitations, we find that a lot of individuals are only allowed to work 20 to 25 hours per week, and they have no opportunity to ever try to go beyond that attainable can be utilized in us in a unique way to try and assist with this at times.

Because if you can save up enough [00:13:00] to cover your needs, you know, and admittedly, that can take a while, especially if you're working part time, you know, rent, food, et cetera, in your attainable account for several months, you can then suspend your SSI and attempt working full time. If it works out fantastic, you're now a full time employee and you have a little nest egg.

If it doesn't work out. You can go back to working part time and you know, you have your, the money that was in your attainable account to cover the difference until your SSI gets reestablished. And generally speaking, if you do that within 12 months of suspending it, there's no, uh, challenge to restarting your SSI.

Now this is, you know, a unique trick and it doesn't work for absolutely everyone. So I highly, highly recommend people consult one of the wonderful nonprofits that do benefits counseling, like Work Without Limits in our state, uh, to ensure that, uh, this works for your specific scenario.

One of the big questions I get when I am talking about these programs in the [00:14:00] community is, okay, I set up the ABLE account. I'm not sure how to get the money back out. You are allowed to transfer funds from your attainable account into any bank account you want. Any account that you already have, any bank that exists, you can transfer money from that account to Bank of America, Citizens Bank, you know, Florence Savings Bank, Credit Union, wherever.

You can transfer it anywhere. Then you just have to wait for the transfer to clear and into your account. And that can take. You know, X amount, a couple of days, usually, um, looking into it. One of the simplest things that I've found that people can do is they can simultaneously essentially open a bank account with Fidelity.

Uh, they have a thing called Fidelity cash management account, and that would allow you to just. Move the money back and forth using their app. It makes things very clean and simple. So if you have someone who might have trouble with working between multiple financial institutions, that might be something that could be helpful to them.

Um, the cash management account does come with a [00:15:00] visa debit card. So after you transfer it and clears again, you need to give it that 24, 48 hours. For the investment to clear, they can just swipe the card someplace and be able to just use it. And that makes things very clean and simple for a lot of individuals.

Um, once funds leave the account, they're not in the account anymore, even if they're in the same company. So if you redeposit them, they count towards that annual 18, 000 limit. So if I take 1 and I take it out and put it in 18, 000 times, I've used up my annual contribution limit with that single dollar.

Um, Again, make sure you give time for those attainable accounts to trade. And, uh, as a thing that I've got a question about more recently, uh, and looked into, bonds cannot be rolled directly into an ABLE account. You need to cash them out, pay whatever associated fees with cashing out your bonds, and then you can put them into an ABLE account.

To open a a able account is very simple. You're gonna go to That is a redirect page just for [00:16:00] anybody who has high security on their browsers. I believe it's technically if you want the specific address. But that'll get you there. Um, highly recommend anyone who's opening up any kind of financial account.

Read the disclosure document. It's got essentially a full page written about anything that I say a sentence about. 'cause this is just a quick overview. Um, there are nine portfolio options. including a money market portfolio that you can select between, uh, when you set up the account. Uh, one thing I like to note is that this is a financial institution and, uh, it is set up as such.

So when you get to the first screen, it's going to say, what is your name? And I know a lot of people who will default to writing the individual with a disability's name there. Don't do that. They're asking, who are you? The person who's typing, because there is a screen coming up next or so that's going to say, are you opening this on behalf of somebody else?

So you're going to want to make sure that, you know, just. answer the questions as they're given. Um, additionally, we have some clarifying language that we got [00:17:00] from the Social Security Administration, which requires that you got to, if you are a rep payee, you want to title the ABLE account to show that the payee has a fiduciary interest in the funds and that the beneficiary owns the funds but has no access to them.

So, they recommend that you do something like beneficiary's name by payee's name. Representative payee as the title of the account or payee's name, comma, representative payee for beneficiary's name, just to make sure it's very clear at every stage. And that also assists with sometimes when you're saying what name is on for transfers and such.

Um, Fidelity is a massive company that does a lot of types of different investing, and quite a few of those investors have no idea about ABLE accounts. Uh, fortunately, Fidelity has trained a special division to be able to assist with ABLE accounts. If you have questions about what portfolio you should fill out, uh, questions while you're opening up these accounts, anything like that, you want to call this number that's on the screen right here, 844 [00:18:00] 458 2253.

That number is also on that fidelity dot com slash able page. You scroll down a little bit from what you see in the screenshot here, you will see that phone number right right on top there. And that phone number specifically goes to the attainable trained individuals who can help you out. See, we have a question in the thing here.

If I open the account as a parent a few years ago, but I'm also a rep payee, do I need to retitle the account to match the rep payee format? Um, You don't have to, because you're doing, you opened up the account as a parent, um, and you're also a rep payee, so, and the parent is sort of higher on the, the hierarchy than a rep payee.

Um, if you are frequently utilizing benefit funds and putting them back and forth into the attainable account, it might be something to, uh, consider. Because that will assist with sort of a clean understanding of the documentation, which, uh, if you ever audited, they might, uh, appreciate. [00:19:00] So, you know, you're, there's nobody who's going to force you to do that.

To my knowledge, I apologize if I'm wrong, but to my knowledge, that won't happen, but it might be helpful at some point down the line. Uh, we have another question. Do you know of anywhere that lists the nonprofits, benefits, counselors, and station nationwide that help SSI work? There is no national listing that I'm aware of.

Um, I recommend work without limits here in Massachusetts because I know them. I've worked with them for over a decade. Uh, and I know that they really know their stuff and, uh, I really appreciate, uh, what they do over there. Uh, so that's the one that I can personally recommend, um, as someone who's been working with people with disabilities for decades, my own self.

Uh, I spent 12 years in employment services and they were incredibly helpful, um, and I've had worked alongside them in many roles over those years. Um, so I'm gonna click on those and, uh, please, you know, ask if you if you need to clarify if, uh, if there if I didn't answer your question quite fully. [00:20:00] Can workers comp be put into the able count even though a person has SSDI and not SSI.

The reason is because my client is concerned about how workers comp might interact with his food stamps and subsidized housing. Um, I believe so. Uh, because you know, you're, you're getting the cash. One of the things that you're going to want to make sure that you're really clear about. For all for a lot of things and you know, we'll go into this a little bit more a little later is making sure you're really clear in your own personal record keeping about where money came from and what it's being used for.

So if I put 1, 000 of my own money into an attainable account and 500 from my SSI benefit, I want to make sure it's very clear in my records that 500 of SSI benefit. Went into the account and then that I spent that 500 of SSI benefit on things that the SSI benefit is supposed to be used for. This is very big, particularly if you ever have a back payment, because back payments are not supposed to be used for food and shelter, even though you can use ABLE account funds for that.

Um, so just to be, once [00:21:00] again, be very clear about what you are, where the money's coming from and where it's going for the purposes of, you know, if you ever get audited by a government institution, uh, just make sure that, you know, nobody gets in any trouble because, you know, Oh no, you know, there's 1, 500 in the account and I spent, you know, 1400 of it.

You want to be clear, which of it was the funds that you put in and which was it, the stuff that came from SSI. Um, can you put use able towards downpaying for home purchase? Yes, you can. That one's easy. You absolutely can pay mortgage and you can also pay mortgage insurance as required by the mortgage company.

All right. I think I got all the questions. Let's keep on moving along here. These are the nine portfolio options that are available from Fidelity for your ABLE account. The simplest way would be to just sort of select one of these. A lot of people tend to go to go for that middle moderate 40, 50, 60 percent zone.

Um, Sometimes the people I [00:22:00] want to be a little more conservative. Sometimes they want to be a little more aggressive. You can technically break yourself up by percentages. So you can say I want to take 20 percent of my able account and make it be in the 40 percent level. I want to take 30 percent of my able account be at the 85 percent level.

I want to take the other 50 percent and put it at the 20 percent level. You can do that. I leave that to people's individual choices about how, uh, complicated or uncomplicated they want to make, uh, setting up their portfolios. You are allowed to change those options twice per calendar year. So, you know, if you're like, this is too much, or this is too aggressive, or this is too conservative for what I think things are going to do, it is the stock market, so it's going to go up and down with the stock market as far as returns.

But, you know, you're allowed to change those twice per calendar year. I would generally recommend making sure you're consulting with investment advisors or what have you before you make significant changes as these are long term financial, uh, investments. This is a, a [00:23:00] wonderfully graphic view of exactly the same information, but I like to give both options for people who, you know, prefer a visual versus prefer a textual.

These are, you know, the, the way that these make out. And I see, I have another question real quick. Uh, can you reframe that? Can I put any of my SSI in an ABLE account or does it have to be non SSI money? You can put both it. Um, I'm going to be going into a little more detail about some of the, the limitations of SSI.

Uh, you can put, you can, you, you can put either, either or both money into your ABLE account. You're allowed to do, uh, put any monies into your contribute, however you like. Um, I'm

asking, can you transfer money from a WISPAC trust to ABLE? I will be very honest. I don't know what a WISPAC trust is, but if that's a special needs trust of any kind, yes, you are allowed to set up automatic designation, uh, uh, deductions from your trust and have them go directly into your ABLE account to be utilized to spend on needs.

It's actually one of the great ways [00:24:00] you can utilize a special needs trust. in coordination with an ABLE account where you say, okay, there's, you know, half a million dollars in my special needs trust or whatever. I'm just spitballing a number here. It's going to drop a thousand dollars a month into my ABLE account for that individual to then turn around and use it to pay for a significant portion of their bills.

And that just sort of, but you know, allows them to have flexibility. On, uh, exactly how much, uh, might be needed because the electricity bills change every month and so on and so forth. So instead of having a set number, you can give a little bit more than what you think they're going to need. And then the extra money doesn't end up hurting them because it's being able to be used next month for a different need, or maybe they get to splurge on a better groceries or some such.

Um, I think I answered that. I hope so. Uh, sorry. I'm going to click on these so I can work my way down these, uh, when seeking a financial advisor, uh, for some with a disability, what should one look for qualifications, et cetera. I mean, it's going to be anything like, well, like any financial [00:25:00] advisor, generally looking, you're going to want somebody who is a fiduciary over just a general financial advisor.

Fiduciaries are required to be looking out for your best interests. Financial advisors is a. You know, title that doesn't actually have any legal teeth to it. So I would look for a fiduciary, generally speaking, unless you have someone that you know, and you've worked with and you really trust good for it.

Way to go. Um, but yeah, um, I don't have any specifics that I would say about that. It would be great, particularly if you have this, if they are already familiar with able accounts. And that's certainly a question you could ask someone is you want someone who has, Some familiarity with either Special Needs Trust or ABLE accounts.

Uh, there are some fantastic organizations, uh, all over the country that, that have that experience. Um, how are fees taken out of the ABLE account when you deposit, withdraw, or is this taken off of the gain? Generally, it's just taken off of the gain because these are based on your investment, uh, and your [00:26:00] returns and what have you.

One of the great things, and we'll still mention this in a moment, is that, uh, the earnings on an attainable account, uh, do not incur income tax as long as they're used for qualified disability expenses, uh, probably. So, um, this is going into actually the question that was asked earlier. Uh, attainable accounts are eligible for direct deposit, including you can direct deposit your SSI or SSDI benefit funds.

Direct deposit of a Paycheck has to stay under the initial 18, 000. So if you're making more than 18, 000 a year, you have to make sure that you're only putting, you know, less than 18, 000 into the account through direct deposit, legal tax mumbo jumbo reasons for that, even though you're allowed to put that additional 14, 580, you're going to have to cash your paycheck and then put that in your, and then deposit that manually into the account, that's just how it's set up.

Um, direct depositing into an attainable savings account. Just like any other account, it's got a [00:27:00] routing number and an account number. Now, a lot of, uh, people's work sites are going to have a little bit of trouble with this. You might have to call their HR department because unlike a savings account or a checking account, this is an investment account.

The account number structure is different. It's got a different number of digits and then you have different hyphens in different places and such. So it doesn't fit onto the basic. piece of paper for direct deposit that they give you when you get hired at work. It will work for the exact same way, but you know, you, the, the, the local manager might look at you confused and not sure how to put it into their system, but it can be done by anybody who actually, you know, is in accounting at the company.

Um, I believe under current Department of Labor standards, and you'll excuse me if I'm wrong about this, you're allowed to split your work income up to five places without being, you know, yelled at by them. So, you know, you could put 20 percent of your work income into a checking account, 30 percent into an attainable account and 50 percent into savings, and that shouldn't be a problem.

A lot of people do this for things like, you know, [00:28:00] credit unions who hold a debt for you or something like that. Um, S. S. I. N. S. S. D. I. Have a different set of rules. They can only go to one place. So, um, if you don't want all of it going into your attainable account, you're gonna have to put all of it into a checking your savings account as your designated account and then put whatever amount that you want to go into your attainable account.

Um, as these are investment accounts, they do best when they're growing. So we generally recommend that you put some sort of money on a regular basis into them. That can be a dollar. That can be 5. We have sort of an automatic systemic plan, investment plan with 15 per month or 45 per quarter. That's just, you know, what we sort of set up as the baseline.

There's no pressure to do those numbers, do whatever you're comfortable with. The account will be fine with 5 in it. Or we. You know, fine with 5, 000 in it. Whatever it is that you choose that you want to do. So you have two more questions. Is ABLE considered as asset for Social Security? Uh, the whole, one of the, the [00:29:00] whole points of, uh, ABLE is that it is not, uh, considered against Social Security until there's 100, 000 in it.

So if you don't have 100, 000 in the account, it will not count against your SSI, your federal housing waivers, et cetera. Um, What is the advantages, disadvantages of having SSI, SSDI directly deposited into ABLE account? Um, the advantage would be largely that you know, you know, that it's going into a place that you don't need to worry about spend downs.

Um, there's no, I mean, it's about what you're, how you're going to utilize your money. So it's really a personal choice. There's no real pressure on either direction for me as far as whether or not it's the best decision for you, because that's so much dependent on how you utilize your benefit funds and to what degree and what have you.

If you are someone who frequently gets the benefit funds and also is, you know, Doing, you know, pretty good at work or what have you and are, you know, often hovering on the the edge of of spend downs that might be a [00:30:00] good reason to do it. If you're SSI, you really want that money to be only utilized for bills.

That's a good, uh, way of ensuring that the budgeting works very well for an individual because you say that money is not allowed to be used for activities. That money is in a place that is only utilized for qualified disability expenses. There's a couple other reasons, you know, ideas that you might want to utilize it in that way.

Uh, but it's really a personal choice.


Okay. Yep. All right. Uh, sorry about that. When I clicked on the questions, I thought I lost a page. Um, as far as records keeping, I would just like to be clear. I mentioned it earlier. Payees are responsible for keeping records on how they spend conserved benefits. As you remember, a rep payee is a social security administration designation.

We know that it's not about who's got control over all the money. It's initially was just about the SSA benefits. [00:31:00] So be sure to keep accurate records of those contributions and use of the funds. We kind of went over this a minute ago in response to a question, but just to revisit it because it's very important.

So if you are mixing it, mixing the social security benefits with other funds that belong to the beneficiary. You want to keep really clear records of where the money came from. This is a benefit. This came from grandma. This came from my best friend. This came from work and you know, uh, what it was used for.

And that way you can ensure once again, in the case of an audit, you're in the clear, um, the recommendation for the social security administration is to keep those records for at least two years. Um, as a person who's been in disability services for a long time, I know that, you know, I like. Whenever I'm thinking about Quest benefits, I know I always like to keep at least three years.

So something along those lines, you probably be in the clear. Um, distribution subject to taxation. If a withdrawal is made for a non qualified disability expense, and I remind you that qualified expenses is pretty [00:32:00] much everything that's non recreational. So it's, it's, you got to work to make that happen.

Uh, you might be subject to regular income taxes and a 10 percent penalty on the earnings from the investment. Because you don't pay, uh, income tax on the earnings on those investments if they're used for qualified disability expenses. But if you take out money, and the money that you took out was from the gain that happened from the investments, you might get both of those, uh, those dings there.

Um, there are two circumstances in which a non qualified distribution is not subject to that 10 percent penalty penalty tax. And that's essentially uh, distributions made on or after the death of the designated beneficiary to their estate. Um, and also if you're paying back the government there, they don't charge you a penalty for doing that.

Um, I have another question here. If the SSI SSDI deposit directly to able, then it simplifies the rep payee report for, for, I'm not going to say for [00:33:00] everyone, but I will say it probably simplifies it for a lot of people. Uh, I, once again, so many unique circumstances, I don't want to ever say that anything is all encompassing.

Uh, do you have to have a payee representative for able counts? No. Can the owner ever be in charge of their own account? Yes, they, uh, the, they can be from the beginning. The, uh, the individual can open the account themselves. Uh, they are, and they are the top of the hierarchy at all times. They can be the owner and the parson with signature authority.

Do move my way down here. My understanding is that the time of passing the prison will be all funds. Go back to the state. That is not true. I will actually be going into that. I have a whole slide about what happens when an individual passes. So if you just give me a moment, we'll, we'll go into that and hopefully I'll get all your questions answered on that subject.

Uh, and, uh, if I don't, we'll go into more detail. So, uh, some tax benefits, uh, due to the able Financial Planning Act provided the [00:34:00] beneficiaries the same on both accounts or one is a beneficiary is a family member of the other. You're allowed to transfer funds from a 5 29 college savings plan into an able account without incurring any tax or penalty.

That program is Supposed to sundown January one of twenty twenty six and you're still subject to the annual contribution limits. So you can still only put that like 18, 000 or if the person's working 14, 580 additional to 32, 580 per year. So you can only do that. Two more times before that happens. There is significant legislative support to extending that program that is going on right now, but I'm not going to say that it's going to happen because it hasn't been voted on yet, and I don't want to give anybody any false information.

I do want to acknowledge that they're hoping to extend that. But at the moment, the ability to roll over a 5 29 to a 5 29 a is ending on January 1, 2026. ABLE account owners who meet certain criteria can also receive a saver's credit on [00:35:00] their federal taxes for their contributions into an ABLE account.

That would be if that individual is 18 years or older, are not full time students, and are not claimed as a dependent on another person's tax return. As long as withdrawals are spent on those qualified disability expenses, everything that was on our list earlier, attainable account growth is federal income tax free.

So my, you know, napkin math, uh, basis of this is, uh, you put 100, uh, you know, a month into the account for 20 years. I do that cause it's really easy math. 24, 000, uh, would be what it would be if I stuck it under my mattress. Um, Using historical examples, let's say you got about 6 percent growth on that for that 20 years, that's going to actually be 46, 000 in the same amount of time.

Um, and so that extra 22, 000 would not be considered income. You wouldn't have income tax on it. Uh, I see. I have another question. Will these slides be available by email or posted? Yes, I will be emailing these out to everyone who [00:36:00] registered for, uh, the the webinar and they're also available on our website.

And, you know, I put this this information out everywhere I possibly can, but I will make sure that they get out to everyone who registered for the webinar as well.

Question for you didn't want to close. Um, this is a just a generalized, uh, a Tip that can be very helpful to certain families and organizations. Uh, the person with signature authority, that's the person who has control of the account, is allowed to grant another individual a level of access to the beneficiary's attainable account.

So that can include like a registered investment advisor or frequently, because you can only have one person with signature authority, it might be another parent could be given, uh, you know, this access or something, residential program manager in certain instances. A lot of different things and what level of access is going to change based on the relationship as well.

Because I can run from I can [00:37:00] see the account, I can see how much is in the account, to I'm allowed to spend money out of the account. Um, that is determined by the PSA and the program policies. But how you do it is you complete what's called an account authority form, which you can download from fidelity.

com. You review the access levels, you determine what it is, it's going to have to have a signature on it, prove that you're you and all that. Um, And then it stays in that third party access stays in effect until it is revoked or revised because you also change the access level by the person with signature authority written notification has to be provided to the program manager again that is when I say program manager fidelity, that's the.

financial program manager of any desired change to that access, including removing it. Um, the exact same form is used for changing the access or getting rid of that access. So, you know, you want to, much like I do with anything that I would do with this state or quest or what have you, uh, is, you know, after you send it in, I call them and make sure they received it.[00:38:00]

But because you're giving someone a level of access to somebody's finances, you know, make sure that you're thinking very critically and carefully about doing that. Consult people in your life who you trust about financial means, um, you know, qualified advisor or what have you before doing so, but it can be helpful in certain instances where there's, you know, got to be more than one person who can have access.

And this is the way that you can do that. This would be the screen that I mentioned earlier. This is my morbid screen. Uh, the beneficiary PSA can assign a successor beneficiary in the event of their death who will receive the account balance into their own attainable account after all account actions have been completed.

And that last couple of words there, don't worry, I'm going to go into detail about. Uh, they can also assign someone to receive the funds as part of their estate in the event of their death who will receive the account balance after all account actions have been completed. The funds will need to be removed from the ABLE account in this instance before being received.

[00:39:00] Because if the person is not, uh, you know, able eligible, they, they can't have an attainable account. Um, what happens when a person passes is the account is, uh, restricted for 12 months. It's sort of frozen. Uh, you are allowed to pay any outstanding, um, Q. D. E. S. Qualified disability expenses during the 12 months.

So, you know, if there's any outstanding rent, any outstanding health, any, uh, your hospital bills, once again, you can pay for the funeral, you can pay for your burial expenses, you're allowed to pay for all of that stuff out of the attainable account before anything else happens. Um, after any of that happens, Medicaid is allowed to take a look and say, well, you know, we gave a level of, uh, of health insurance for these years.

We'd like some of that back. Um, I have seen some people do readings of this. I haven't gotten clarification from official sources, but I want to say that some, uh, folks who I trust have looked at this and said that if it's less than 25, 000 in the [00:40:00] account, it's not worth Medicaid's time, um, and they're not going to bother.

But again, I'm not going to say that that's definitively true, but I do feel that for a lot of people between those factors, particularly the fact that you're allowed to pay off all of those expenses before anything else happens to it, that, uh, this sentence at the bottom here, which is generally considered the most scary sentence in this entire presentation, has a lot less teeth to it.

Um, if you're seeking more information, you can always go to mifa. org slash attainable. They have a nice guy. Who shows up and does presentations and talks about these accounts. He's really willing to have been very accessible to talk to anybody about them. Uh, we have a national resource center at able NRC.

org. Uh, fidelity has their own page. The social security administration actually loves us because we saved them from having to chase people about spend downs and all that kind of stuff. And they are actually generally in the business of trying to help people. So they have their own website, all about able, and they're [00:41:00] continually releasing more information as they.

clarify what they need to do. And we also have an email sign up at mifa. org slash able registration form. So whenever significant changes to the program take place, we can let you know about them. We don't spam you like on a weekly basis. It's more along the lines of every once in a while when we have significant information that we think might be benefit to you, we put it out there and let you know.

Um, yeah. We're also all over social media. We'd love to have y'all join us and, you know, follow us along. Uh, we do a lot of stuff, both about attainable and of course on college financing in general, being said, we are plenty of time for, for further questions. Uh, we also have the ability to email me. I, I maintain the email address at attainable at MIFA.

org along with the, we have a phone number at 800 449 MIFA. Uh, the, you know, Follow the prompts to get to the attainable program or just leave a message there. If there's something that you'd like to have someone talk to you about and we're generally pretty accessible. [00:42:00] That all being said, let me dive into the questions here that we have in the, in the chat.

Uh, any special requirements if an agency is the rep payee and opens an ABLE account on behalf of the individual? No, you're the rep payee. That was the, that's the, it's the special requirement is that you went through the processes of becoming the rep payee. We actually have a lot of folk who really appreciate the ability to open these so that they don't have to, particularly during COVID when people couldn't do outings as much or what have you, and there weren't as many opportunities to spend money.

Uh, being able to have an opportunity to put somebody's money in for something that they could use, something for their personal benefit, as opposed to buying something that had to be somewhat useless in order for it to not count as an asset, like bedroom set, uh, was really, really wonderfully helpful.

If I set up an ABLE account in one state and then move to another state, do I have to set up a new ABLE account? No, you are allowed to open an ABLE account using any state that you want to, no matter where you live. While living in Massachusetts, you can open up one in [00:43:00] Ohio. While living in California, you can open one up in Pennsylvania.

It's all about what ABLE account you feel meets your needs and which program you want to work with. Uh, we here in Massachusetts actually have a significant number of accounts that are opened from outside of our state because, um, I'm a big proponent of our system and other people seem to like it as well.

Um, This is so much great information. Thank you for this. Will we get the webinar recording sent to us? I am grateful this, uh, there will be a webinar recording available. We can certainly, you know, put a link out to it. And again, we will make sure that the slides get out to everyone. Um, I am an advocate that works at a nonprofit organization.

Pass. Want to help my client set up an able account. I did not put down my name. You don't need to put down your name unless you are the person who is going to be the person with signature authority. If you're helping them open up the account in their own name, you will never have to put in your own name unless you are opening it up on behalf of someone else.[00:44:00]

So that's what I was indicating with that when I mentioned that earlier is that we have a lot of people who fill it out as rep payees or as parents or grandparents, siblings, you know, what have you. And they see that first thing and just out of habit, a lot of folk will say, ah, fill out your name and by your name, they obviously mean the individual that I'm working with.

I'll put their name in first. And so then they do that. But if you're just literally, assisting someone else by being their scribe, then yeah, you just do their name is D. C. F. And Massachusetts Council of Children with Disabilities and their custody of referees. We have been working alongside D. C. F. For the past several years to clarify and assist them with making that happen.

Um, it is a Consistent work in progress. Um, but yes, that is actually a major ambition for our organization that we have been putting a lot of time and effort into, uh, making happen, [00:45:00] uh, which not 100 percent there yet, but we really hope that it will be soon.

Uh, more. These are just a thank you. You're welcome. All right. What if the person is not able to understand about keeping track of expenses after taking money out of the able count? They are independent enough to live in the community, not an institution, but they also need help with many things. My job isn't to be the rep payee.

Well, if you're not the rep payee, then you shouldn't be acting as a rep payee. Um, this is There is a, such a spectrum, right? When it comes to people's financial abilities and what have you, if someone has someone in their life who is helping them maintain their bank accounts is helping them, uh, You know, uh, run their finances, make sure their bills are paid.

Um, you know, if usually that person ends up being a rep payee, sometimes it's a [00:46:00] parent, um, you'll see that all those things are in our hierarchy. Um, if someone, uh, is not able to control their finances independently, um, then usually there's someone else involved who's on that hierarchy who might want to be the person who runs their able account.

But again, I can't necessarily advise. for every situation about how the financial situations for those individuals might be run. But you're right. You know, some people have the ability to do it and therefore they might put their own name down and be able to run the account themselves. And some people who need assistance, usually that assistance is very clear and designated in their lives.

Uh, their service coordinator might be, you know, the person who oversees it or what have you, might be an agency, might be a residential provider, uh, might be an attorney, might be, might be, might be, uh, and whoever that person might be could potentially be the person who also, uh, sets up the ABLE account.

Is there a way to check if we have, is there a way to check if [00:47:00] we have assigned a third party person, another parent on the ABLE account as we opened it six years ago? Um, if you are the person with signature authority, there shouldn't be any problem with you reaching out to Fidelity and asking for that information because you're the person who's in charge and can run the account.

Uh, if someone who is now retired is still able to make annual contributions to their ABLE account. Um, Yes, I don't. I don't see personally an issue with that. Um, I understand where your questions come. I think it's about the fact that you're not allowed to have one with a retirement account. You're contributing to.

But if you're retired, you shouldn't be still contributing to enable account. So you should be fine to have enable account.

Any pros, cons of an individual versus the individual special needs trust contributing to enable account that you can think of? Um, I can think of, you know, both, um, you know, the, [00:48:00] the, uh, the great thing about having a special needs trust contributing to enable account is that, you know, that there's a regular contribution coming in that assists with maintaining someone's lifestyle, their life satisfaction, their ability to do things.

So, you know, let's say my, um, Remember, you're still allowed to have the 2, 000 in addition to the ABLE account. So the 2, 000, if you're paying all your bills, because almost all of them, if not all of them, can be paid out of your attainable account, you can then have that 2, 000 be sort of your recreation fund.

So if your special needs trust is putting a certain amount of money, um, into your attainable account to cover your bills, then you can then use the 2, 000 to be saving up for. Well, you know, I always wanted to take a trip. I always wanted to have, you know, an Xbox. I always wanted to be able to do to go to the county fair or whatever.

And instead of trying to slide that in, uh, as a, as a very thin sliver after you've [00:49:00] paid everything else with your 2, 000 limit. Okay. I'm paying all my bills. Out of the money into my attainable account. So now I'm allowed to save up to 2, 000 purely for recreation. Um, and similarly, you can sort of manipulate where money comes from and goes to in those ways.

Um, so it's also can be helpful if you know someone is making a little bit of money at work, but you know that they're getting their benefit funds, but into attainable account. Plus maybe something from a special needs trust, where you can create an opportunity for someone to work on their financial independence in that you can say, okay, we're going to pay all your bills except for one out of your attainable account.

We're in charge of your attainable account. We want to see if you can be responsible and pay a bill and you're going to have that in that 2000 limit that you've got. You're in charge of that one bill. Hey, you've shown you're responsible. You're doing great with that. How about two bills? How about three bills?

You know, dude, you're doing great. How about I give you, uh, you know, access to your attainable account. I'm still going to be the PSA, but I have you help me pay the bills. You showed that you're fully financially independent. You should have control of your attainable account. Now you're [00:50:00] going to the PSA and the owner.

I'll just help you out and be your advisor because you're going to take full control of your finances. It can create an opportunity for sort of a protected approach to making sure that someone can pay their bills. There's a lot of different scenarios where you can sort of move these systems back and forth to the benefit of the individual.

We don't have to keep a record of deposit and withdrawals, right? Because the bank account lists that info, but the individual should keep a record of how they spent their money to print and use for this. Um, there is no form specifically available to print and use for, uh, for this from, uh, attainable or from Fidelity, from MIFA.

Um, it's really going to be about what works best for individuals. Yes, you can absolutely use the bank records, but again, what you're going to want to be very clear, particularly if you're using benefit funds, is you're going to want to be clear about how much money that went in was a benefit fund and what it was used for when you took it out and you're wanting to want to keep that separate from any other funds that may go in or out of that account.

Specifically in the case of as a [00:51:00] rep payee, there's a responsibility for ensuring that and be having that. available upon request for the social security administration audits. Um, as rare as those are, it's always good to have that, you know, mentality going in. Um, because, you know, one person might be bringing money from four different places.

One person might be using a trust. One person might only be using benefit funds. There's no, you know, One size fits all form that we could create that would allow someone for that record keeping. It's really up to the individuals involved. Thank you for your time help. Glad to be of assistance. I hope that I was.

Um, thank you. Appreciate it. Uh, do we, do we have any other questions that I, that I can answer for folk today?

Give it just another couple of seconds in case somebody's typing.[00:52:00]

I'll just do a prolonged goodbye. And if I get hit with a question, that'll be fine. I want to thank everyone for your, for your time, for your, for your interest. Um, please do feel free to reach out. I'm a very, uh, accessible person. Uh, thank you very much for, for the, for, for the, for the thank you. Um, And, you know, if you, uh, have further questions, you know, we're, you know, you can go attainable at MIFA.

org, send that email. We'll make sure that we, uh, get the, any questions we can, if I don't know the answer, I'll find someone who does, uh, and, uh, we appreciate all of you who have taken an interest in this program, we hope that it continues to be, uh, of assistance to the people that we serve and, uh, you know, uh, again, thank you so much.

And, uh, hope you have a spectacular day and. Well, I think that that'll be, that'll be it. And we'll, we'll stop the recording here.

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