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ABLE Accounts

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A type of financial account for people who have disabilities that began before they turned 26. ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts have tax advantages and the money in these accounts does not affect eligibility for many benefits, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), AHCCCS, and Nutrition Assistance (formerly Food Stamps). Money in ABLE accounts must be used for specific things, like education, housing, transportation, health care, work-related expenses, assistive technology, or other approved living expenses. Note: If you have more than $100,000 in your ABLE account, the money will be counted by the SSI program.

ABLE accounts can only be opened through specific programs or financial institutions and a person can only open one account. Each state regulates which financial institution offers ABLE accounts in that state. You do not have to open your account in your own state: if another state offers a program, it may let you open an account there. That lets you compare which financial institution offers the right options for you and means you can open an account even if no financial institution in your state offers accounts.

Arizona's ABLE account program is AZ ABLE, which is only open to Arizona residents. You can choose to open an account in another state’s ABLE program.

If you have an ABLE account and work:
  • You can put up to an extra $12,140 of your earnings into your account (on top of the regular $15,000 that is allowed). The $12,140 must be from your own earnings – it cannot be contributions from others or money you get from benefits or other unearned income.
    • Note: This means that if you earn $12,140 or more, you could have a total of up to $27,140 go into your ABLE account in a year. If you earn less than $12,140, the amount you could contribute would be lower.
  • You may qualify for the Saver’s Credit when you file your federal taxes.
  • You have to make sure that too much money isn’t contributed into your account (even if it is other people making the deposits). Check with your ABLE program if you have questions about this.

Asset Limit

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The maximum amount of assets you're allowed to own while maintaining eligibility for a particular disability benefits program. Most benefits programs do not count everything you own, including the home you live in and one car you own. For Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the first $100,000 in an ABLE account is not counted as assets. For AHCCCS, Nutrition Assistance (formerly Food Stamps), and some other programs, none of the money in an ABLE account is counted.

Also called a "resource limit."

Assets

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Things that you own, like a car or a house. You can only own a certain amount in assets and still qualify for many health care and disability benefit programs. The home you live in and the car you drive to work are exempt under most Social Security and state disability benefit programs. For Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the first $100,000 in an ABLE account is not counted as assets. For AHCCCS, Nutrition Assistance (formerly Food Stamps), and some other programs, none of the money in an ABLE account is counted.

Also called "resources."

Assets for Independence Act (AFIA)

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Legislation that established Individual Development Account (IDA) programs for applicants who are not on TANF Cash Assistance. The three goals of AFIA include: providing individuals and families with incentives to save earned income, increasing self-sufficiency, and improving the community.

Capital

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Money or other resources available for a particular purpose, such as starting a business or investing.

Capital Expense

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A one-time expense that will benefit a business in the future. Capital expenses are often related to buying equipment that that the business will need to get started.

Credit History

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A record that shows when and how you borrowed and repaid money.

Credit Report

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A summary of your financial history that is prepared by a credit bureau. It includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or arrested, or have filed for bankruptcy.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

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A federal income tax credit for low income working individuals and families. The credit reduces the amount of federal income tax you owe and can result in a refund check. Most people claim their Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) when they file their federal income taxes.

Entrepreneur

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A person who organizes and runs a business and takes responsibility for the financial risks of doing so.

Individual Development Account (IDA)

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A savings account in which your deposits are "matched" at a certain rate. If you have a 2-to-1 match, for example, an additional $2 will be deposited for every $1 that you deposit in your account. IDAs are usually used to save for school, purchasing a home, or starting a business.

Microenterprise

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A business operating on a very small scale. Often a microenterprise is owned and run by 1 person and has a small number of employees.

Minimum Payment

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The amount shown on your monthly credit card statement that you must pay by the due date to not hurt your credit score.

Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)

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A Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program that allows you to set aside income and assets for expenses related to a specific work goal. Income that you use for these expenses will not cause your SSI benefits to go down. Assets that you spend on PASS expenses won't count towards the SSI limit.

A PASS specialist can help you set up a Plan to Achieve Self-Support.

Power of Attorney

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A legal written document that lets someone else (called an agent) act for you in legal, financial, business, or personal matters. The agent can make decisions, sign legal documents, buy or sell items, or handle banking and other accounts for you.

Probate

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A legal process after a person dies during which a court decides whether that person’s will is valid or not. If the person didn’t leave a will, the court will decide who gets the person’s money and property. The process can be complicated, and take anywhere from a few months to several years.

Special Needs Trust

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A legal arrangement that lets someone else (a person or an organization, called the trustee) manage resources or assets for a person with disabilities (called the beneficiary). If a Special Needs Trust is set up correctly, the money in the trust won’t count toward the resource or asset limits for benefits programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or AHCCCS, and it can be used to pay for the beneficiary’s expenses that aren’t covered by their public benefits. If you are the beneficiary of a Special Needs Trust, your trust can have more assets in it than the resource limits for benefits programs usually allow, and the money can pay for things like recreation, telephone bills, education, and vacations.

Both the Special Needs Alliance and the Academy of Special Needs Planners can help you find an attorney who specializes in Special Needs Trusts.