By: Marisa Lepore Hovanec and Mark Friedman
In 2014, federal legislation commonly known as the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act was passed allowing states to create tax-advantaged savings programs for individuals with qualifying disabilities. These savings programs, now known as 529A ABLE accounts (ABLE accounts), operate similar to traditional 529s in that interest and earnings accrue tax-deferred and distributions are tax-free if used for qualified expenses. However, the definition of a “qualified expense” in ABLE accounts is much broader than with a traditional 529 plan. With a traditional 529 plan, qualified expenses (and penalty-free withdrawals) are limited to education expenses. With an ABLE account, qualified expenses include education in addition to a wide range of other expenses deemed “qualified disability expenses” (QDEs).