The ABLE Act

The ABLE Act


The ABLE Act and CalABLE:

Providing People with Disabilities Greater Financial Security

California Achieving a Better Life Experience (CalABLE) is a program that allows people with disabilities to establish a tax-advantaged ABLE account that allows them to save up to $100,000 without losing public benefits such as SSI, SSDI and Medi-Cal. Earnings in these accounts are not subject to federal income tax or California state income tax, as long as earnings are spent on Qualified Disability Expenses. Prior to the federal ABLE Act, an individual receiving benefits from a public program was not able to save more than $2,000 without their benefits being suspended.


In 2015, the California State Legislature created the California Achieving a Better Life Experience Board (CalABLE) to implement the ABLE program in California.

In 2014, President Obama signed the Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (IRC Section 529A).

Legislation signed by Governor Brown in the Fall of 2018 added two important new elements:

  • A California resident’s CalABLE account will not be subject to recovery by MediCal
  • CalABLE will be a national program, available for particiption by residents of other states.
  • For more information, see the CalABLE website at:

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to establish an ABLE or CalABLE account, an individual must be diagnosed with a disability prior to age 26. In addition, the individual must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Be entitled to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) because of their disability; or
  • Be able to provide “self-certification” of their disability and diagnosis. This means the individual has a written, signed diagnosis from a licensed physician which is available upon request.

Account Contributions

Contributions to an ABLE account are currently limited to $14,000 per year, and can be made by family, friends, or the beneficiary themselves. The account’s earnings are allowed to accumulate tax-free, and the withdrawals, provided they are applied to qualifying disability expenses, are also tax-free.

Qualified Disability Expenses

An expense is considered “qualified” when it relates to the person’s disability and helps them maintain or improve their health, independence, or quality of life. Qualified Disability Expenses are not restricted to medical expenses. They may include basic living expenditures such as expenses for education, housing, transportation, employment support, health, prevention and wellness, assistive technology, financial services, home improvement and funeral services.

The Arc of the United States has developed this series of videos about ABLE Accounts and Special Needs Trusts.

CalABLE Account Features 

The CalABLE Board is working to determine California account features and benefits, such as:

  • Ability to contribute automatically through routine deductions from a bank account;
  • Ability to invite friends and family to contribute directly to your account;
  • Deposit online or by check; and
  • Diverse investment options.

ABLE Accounts In Other States

A few states are already operational (including Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee and Virginia) and out-of-state residents may open an ABLE account in certain states. Online enrollment is free in some states, however each program has different fees and costs associated with it. California residents should shop each state’s program to determine which best fits their needs; a tool comparing programs can be found at this site: