There’s big progress underway for certain eligible Nebraska residents: Enable, Nebraska’s ABLE program, is expected to be operational by the summer of 2016.
The Federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act was signed into law in 2014. Its goal is simple: to allow states to establish their own programs for individuals to create tax-free savings accounts for qualified, disability-related expenses. Nebraska passed the Nebraska ABLE enabling act in May of 2015, and just recently signed a contract with First National Bank to be the Program Manager for Enable.
ABLE is modeled after the 529 college savings program, which helps families save for college-related expenses, including tuition. Through the Enable program, eligible participants will be able to set up an ABLE account with First National Bank. Earnings in the accounts are not subject to state or federal taxes so long as they’re used for qualified disability-related expenses.
To be eligible to participate in an ABLE program, an individual must be entitled to SSA benefits based on blindness or disability that occurred prior to age 26 or must have received a certification by a qualified physician indicating that he or she is blind or has a physical or mental impairment which results in severe functional limitations, prior to the age of 26.
In addition to being tax-free if used for a qualified disability expense, ABLE account balances and distributions are not counted when considering needs-based financial aid. In other words, individuals with ABLE accounts will not lose eligibility under SSI, Medicaid, and other public benefits.
As Enable Nebraska notes, qualified expenses are any expenses related to the blindness or disability of the individual including: education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology and personal support services, health, prevention and wellness, financial management and administrative services, legal fees, expenses for oversight and monitoring, and funeral and burial expenses, as well as other expenses identified in the final federal rules.
According to State Treasurer Don Stenberg (Trustee of NEST and of ABLE), the Nebraska ABLE program should be one of the first ABLE programs in the nation to be up and running when it’s operational this summer. Although fees could change depending on the final federal regulations, as of right now, First National will service ABLE accounts for an annual fee of $50 per account; each account owner will be charged a program management fee of 50 basis points, as well. A basis point is equal to one-one hundredth of 1 percent of the average daily net assets in the client’s account. The minimum initial deposit for these accounts is $250. More information on features of the Enable program is available in this press release.
Although the federal regulations are not yet finalized, Nebraska’s Enable program is an exciting development for eligible Nebraska residents. Check back in with us as the launch date approaches—we will have even more information available then. In the meantime, if you have any questions, contact us by phone at 402.391.1065, or reach out to us via Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Sarah began her career with Hancock & Dana in 2005 as an intern. She joined the firm full-time in 2008, and currently serves as a manager.
She specializes in SSAE 16 engagements, SOC engagements and tax services for individuals and trusts. Sarah also has experience in financial statement audits, attestation engagements and tax services for corporations and non-profits.
She participates in Special Olympics Nebraska as a unified athlete.