Washington State is expected to make ABLE accounts (Achieving a Better Life Experience) available sometime in August. We will announce its launch as soon as the program website goes live.
In the meantime, many people have been asking what the difference is between an ABLE account and a DD Endowment Trust account. The following offers a comparison between the two. We will update as more information about ABLE in Washington becomes available.
WHO IS IT FOR?
ETF: A person with a developmental disability, under age 65, who has been determined eligible for state DDA services. The condition happened at or before age 18. Resident of Washington State at the time of enrollment.
ABLE: A person eligible for SSI benefits or the Social Security Disability, Retirement, and Survivor’s program; OR, submits certification that meets the criteria for a disability certification; lives in Washington State and whose disability occurred before age 26.
WHAT IS IT?
ETF: A special needs trust set up by a third party (Trust 1) and/or by the individual (Trust 2), and is a way to to save without losing eligibility for government benefits.
ABLE: A form of 529 Account Tax Favored Qualified ABLE program in IRS code.
Are there limits in contributions and spending?
ETF: No limits on contributions. No limits on spending, except room and board for those on SSI. Does not affect SSI or Medicaid eligibility.
ABLE: $14,000 a year in contributions. Maximum account balance of $86,000. Spending is approved for qualified disability related expenses. First $ 100,000 does not affect SSI eligibility.
ARE TAXES INVOLVED?
ETF: Earnings from investments are taxed when spent, if the person has taxable income. ETF is a Qualified Disability Trust.
ABLE: ABLE accounts not taxed. 10% federal tax penalty for distributions not used for qualified disability expenses.
WHAT OCCURS IF THE BENEFICIARY PASSES AWAY?
ETF: In a Trust 1 (Third Party), no pay back is required. It is distributed according to Trust documents; In a Trust 2 (Self-Settled), Medicaid/Medical Assistance Recovery applies.
ABLE: Medicaid/Medical Assistance Recovery applies, regardless of contributor.
WHAT DOES IT COST?
ETF: Enrollment fee of $600 (A payment plan option of $25 per month is also offered); minimum annual management fee $75.00; and a $75 tax prep fee. Fees are offset by a state match.
ABLE: Annual fee of $35.00; Annual investment fee of 0.30-0.38 depending on the investment portfolio.
WHEN IS IT AVAILABLE?
ETF: Individuals can enroll now.
ABLE: Accounts are expected to be available by late August 2017.
For questions regarding Washington ABLE contact Peter Tassoni, Disability Workgroup Manager, Department of Commerce.
For questions regarding the DD Endowment Trust Fund, contact Tamara Roberts, Trust Manager.