This month’s question:

“Can I save for my special needs child’s future? She has a disability and will need Medicaid and SSI when she is age 18.”

Beth’s answer:

Yes, you can now save for your child’s future without affecting Medicaid and SSI eligibility and without spending legal fees.

As of September 2017, New York State implemented the ABLE Act allowing any adult (parent, competent person with disability, or guardian) to establish a 529A Able Act account to save for the future needs of an individual with a qualifying disability. Qualifying disability means receiving SSI or SSD, or, if not receiving this benefit, the person has been certified by a physician that he or she has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment. The onset of disability must be before age 26.

After the 529A Able account is opened, you may contribute your money – or your child’s or adult child’s money – through periodic contributions including payroll deductions or gifts from other family members. There can only be one account per disabled person. Only $14,000 per year can be added to the account. The 529A Able account can accumulate up to a  total of $100,000 – and the disabled person may still keep SSI and Medicaid.

SSI has written policy guidelines to explain how to use the account and what happens when the account has more than $100,000.  The account can be used for qualified disability-related expenses – a broader use than in most special needs trusts and which includes housing expenses and specialized medical care.

The 529A Able account, combined with your estate plan with a special needs trust for your disabled child’s inherited assets, is the best way to preserve financial security and eligibility for SSI and Medicaid for your special needs child.

For New York’s new 529A Able account website, go to

For information on 529A Able accounts for other states, go to


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