What is a STABLE Account?
A STABLE Account is an investment account available to eligible individuals with disabilities. STABLE Accounts are made possible by the Achieving a Better Life Experience (“ABLE”) Act, federal legislation that allows families and individuals with disabilities the opportunity to create tax-advantaged accounts that can be used to maintain health, independence, and quality of life.
STABLE Accounts allow individuals with disabilities to save and invest money without losing eligibility for certain public benefits programs, like Medicaid or SSI. Earnings in your STABLE Account are not subject to federal income tax, so long as you spend them on Qualified Disability Expenses.
STABLE Accounts have some similar features to normal bank accounts, but they are not checking or savings accounts. STABLE Accounts are investment accounts, similar to 529 college savings accounts or 401(k) retirement accounts. When you deposit money into your STABLE Account, your money will be invested in different options that you choose. While you can still withdraw and spend your money whenever you need it, a STABLE Account also allows you to grow your money and to save long-term expenses. You can use your STABLE Account to pay for any expense related to your disability including: basic living expenses, housing, education, transportation, assistive technology, employment training, and personal support services.
STABLE NH is New Hampshire’s ABLE plan. The New Hampshire Governor’s Commission on Disability and the Treasurer’s Office have partnered with STABLE Accounts and the Ohio Treasurer’s Office to offer this program to Granite Staters with disabilities. Although STABLE Accounts are available nationwide, STABLE NH offers discounted rates and is only available to New Hampshire residents.
How To Open a STABLE Account
Enrolling in the program and setting up a STABLE Account is done all online. When you open your account, you will be asked to create your own username and password for the online account portal. You will put in basic information, such as your name, address, birth date, etc. If you are a parent or other representative opening an account for someone else, you will need to put in your information and the account holder’s information.
In order to determine if you are eligible for a STABLE account, you will be asked a few questions regarding your disability. If you are unsure whether you have a qualifying disability, you can visit https://stablenh.com/eligibility-screener to check whether you are eligible or not.
Once you have input your information and found eligible, you will make your initial contribution and choose your Investment Options.
Setting up your account online is free (and easy!). You will need to make an initial contribution of at least $25, plus a $1 minimum for any contribution or withdrawal afterwards, in order to set up your account, Currently, Granite Staters pay $3.25 per month ($39 annually) to maintain their accounts. There is also a small asset-based fee of between 0.19% and 0.33%, depending on their chosen investment options, and there may also be other costs (e.g., a return check fee) depending upon your particular account activity.
One of the primary reasons that the federal ABLE Act was passed was to protect individuals with disabilities from losing certain benefits such as SSI or Medicaid. With the exception of some special SSI rules, your STABLE Account funds do not count against you for purposes of determining your eligibility for means-tested federal benefits programs. For example, if you have $5,000 in your STABLE Account, that $5,000 does not count as an asset when determining your eligibility for SSI or Medicaid. In addition, your STABLE Account will not affect your eligibility for state-based means-tested benefits programs offered by New Hampshire.
The STABLE Card is a loadable prepaid debit card that is available to everyone with a STABLE Account. You can use your STABLE Card anywhere Visa is accepted (see https://stablenh.com/prepaid for Visa details). The STABLE Card does not pull money directly out of your STABLE Account. Instead, you choose a specific amount of money to load onto your card. If you are a parent or other Authorized Legal Representative for a loved one’s STABLE Account, you can also request a companion card for that individual. For more information and to open an account visit https://stablenh.com/.
This post first appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of the Disability RAPP: Education Opportunities and Challenges