CalABLE Will Allow Qualified People with Disabilities to Save Money without Fear of Losing Public Benefits

Many people with disabilities can find themselves in a financially tough situation, wanting to save for their high costs in support expenses and future financial security, but not wanting to jeopardize their eligibility for critical public benefits if they have them, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Yet, the California Achieving a Better Life Experience (CalABLE) Program, scheduled to “open for business” the end of 2018, will radically change this situation. It will allow qualified people with a disability to established a tax-advantaged savings account and save up to $15,000 a year with a max of $100,000 without losing vital public benefits. Contributions can be made by family members, friends and/or the individual themselves. Also, earnings in these accounts are not subject to federal or California state income tax, as long as they are spent on qualified disability expenses.


Until this program’s inception, individuals receiving federal benefits have been restricted in the amount of money they can save to $2,000, essentially keeping them in poverty and preventing them from planning for the future. With the Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, signed into federal law in 2014 by former President Obama, these thresholds will no longer an obstacle once CalABLE Program officially “opens” later this year.


Who is eligible for CalABLE?

Any person who has the onset of a disability before age 26 may qualify if one of the following applies:

  • Is eligible for benefits due to a disability, such as SSI or SSDI;
  • Has a disability certification, including a physician signed copy of the diagnosis.

For more information, see the CalABLE webpage, and the CalABLE fact sheet.

Karen Joy Fletcher

Our blogger Karen Joy Fletcher is CHA’s Communications Director. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she is the online “public face” of the organization, provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare and other health care issues. She is responsible for digital content creation, management of CHA’s editorial calendar, and managing all aspects of CHA’s social media presence. She loves being a “communicator” and enjoys networking and collaborating with the passionate people and agencies in the health advocacy field. See her current articles.