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NY ABLE Program Helps New Yorkers With Disabilities Cover Costs

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro urged local residents to sign up for a new savings plan, called the New York Achieving a Better Life Experience ( NY ABLE) program, designed to help individuals with disabilities maintain their health, independence and quality of life. DiNapoli and Molinaro recently met with area residents, not-for-profit organizations and county government employees to discuss the program.

"NY ABLE offers peace of mind to individuals with disabilities and families as they plan for the future," DiNapoli said. "Ensuring a loved one's financial security and long-term care can put a financial strain on families. The NY ABLE program provides families and individuals with a secure and practical way to save and invest funds without jeopardizing their eligibility for many important disability-related benefits. I want to thank County Executive Molinaro for his commitment to improving the lives of individuals with disabilities and helping spread the word about this important new program."

"The NY ABLE program is another great example of how to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY' for those with special needs and their families. We are grateful to Comptroller DiNapoli for choosing to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY' and developing this critical savings program that can help provide peace of mind when planning for long term care and needs for individuals with disabilities," said Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro.

"ThinkDIFFERENTLY" is an initiative spearheaded by County Executive Molinaro which seeks to change the way individuals, businesses, organizations and communities relate to individuals with special needs.

The NY ABLE legislation was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in December 2015. The bill authorized the Office of the State Comptroller to administer NY ABLE. DiNapoli's office also oversees New York's 529 College Savings Program. The legislation was sponsored by Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) and Assemblywoman Gunther (D, I, WF-Forestburgh).

The NY ABLE program allows New Yorkers with disabilities to save money in their own names without risking their Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and certain other means-based benefits.* NY ABLE accounts, also known as 529A accounts, can be opened with a minimum contribution of $25. Contributions can be made by eligible individuals, family members or friends, but are not tax-deductible. The annual contribution is capped at $14,000 and the maximum account balance is $100,000. The annual contribution cap will be increased to $15,000 as of January 2018.

The program was modeled after the 529 College Savings Program and adopted under the federal Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014. New York is one of 28 states in the country that offer this type of program. NY ABLE provides a variety of investment options, from conservative to aggressive.

Earnings and distributions from NY ABLE accounts are tax free provided the funds are used for qualified disability expenses.** These include costs for education, health and wellness, transportation and housing, among other expenses. Users can access funds in several ways, including an optional checking account and debit card.

To be eligible, an individual must have a disability that was present before age 26. Participants must be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), be blind, have a significant disability documented by a physician, or have a disability that is included on the Social Security Administration's Compassionate Allowances Conditions list. New York residency is required and only one account per individual is permitted.

To set up an account, go to www.mynyable.org or call 1-855-5NY-ABLE. A copy of the program's disclosure booklet and participation agreement is available at https://cdn.unite529.com/jcdn/files/NYB/pdfs/programdescription.pdf.

*ABLE programs are intended to supplement other governmental and private benefits, including Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid.

**Earnings on non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal and state and local income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax.