ABLE Program Already Helping People with Psychiatric Disabilities to Save Without Affecting Their Benefits

NYAPRS NOTE: This note comes from Columbia University’s Oscar Jimenez-Solomon. The 2014 Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) enables states to create ABLE savings account programs. ABLE accounts allow eligible people with disabilities, including those with psychiatric disabilities, to – at a minimum- save up to $14,000 per year and $100,000 in a lifetime, tax exempt, and without affecting eligibility for public benefits (e.g., SSI, Medicaid). Many states have created ABLE programs with much more generous. To find out about your state’s ABLE program, click here: To find out more about New York State’s program, click here: ABLE accounts are already making a difference in people’s lives. Ten people with disabilities have been selected to provide the human face of ABLE and serve as advisors. Meet Sarah Perez (below), an individual from Virginia, who is using her ABLE savings to pay for transportation, healthcare, and meaningful activities in support of her mental health recovery:

ABLE National Resource Center Announces Inaugural ABLE Advisor Group

April 11, 2018

Washington, D.C. (April 11, 2018) – The ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) announced today the launch of its inaugural ABLE Advisory Group. The 10 Individuals in the first cohort consist of working-age adults with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities. The ABLE Advisors have a wide range of motivations for opening an ABLE account and short- and long-term financial goals for how funds in their accounts will be used to help them increase their health, independence and quality of life. The Advisors also represent a diverse selection of ABLE programs, types of disabilities, geographic locations, ages, gender, race and ethnicity.

The following individuals have been selected to serve as 2018 ABLE Advisors: 

  • Larry Angeli - Farmington Hills, MI – Parent, Michigan MiABLE Program  
  • Regina Bradley – Buffalo, MO – Parent, Missouri MO ABLE Program    
  • Al Elia – Washington, D.C. – Massachusetts Attainable ABLE Program       
  • Lauren Hughes – Caldwell, ID – Parent, Oregon ABLE for All Account Program
  • Rachel Mast – Olathe, KS – Kansas ABLE Program
  • Edward Mitchell – Jackson, TN – Tennessee TN ABLE Program
  • Anthony Mowl – Austin, TX – Maryland ABLE Program
  • Kathryn Oliver – Austin, TX – Ohio STABLE Account Program
  • Sarah Perez – Norfolk, VA – Michigan MiABLE Program
  • Cheryl Walfall-Flagg – Raleigh, NC – Parent, NC ABLE Account Program

The role of the ABLE Advisors will be twofold. As the human face of ABLE, Advisors will be national spokespersons for ABLE accounts. ABLE accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts that have the potential to significantly increase the health, independence and quality of life of individuals with disabilities, without jeopardizing eligibility for benefits provided through programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Through sharing their experiences and stories as ABLE account holders, Advisors will impart knowledge of successful strategies for utilizing ABLE accounts to achieve personal goals to millions of ABLE-eligible individuals.

“ABLE accounts are a down payment on freedom for millions of individuals with disabilities and their families,” Christopher J. Rodriguez, Director of the ANRC, said. “Yet, public knowledge of ABLE accounts is somewhat lacking and enrollment in ABLE programs still has significant room for growth.”

Said Regina Bradley, the mother of two young children with Down syndrome, "I am saving for both of my children's futures. I want my son and daughter to be able to live a comfortable life in their own homes when they are ready to be independent. I want to make sure they have the opportunity for reliable transportation to medical appointments and jobs. I also hope this will provide them the opportunity to travel, learn or take part in extracurricular activities."

Kathryn Oliver, a self-advocate who has cerebral palsy, said, “I am currently using my ABLE account as a means to save for a down payment on a home. Additionally, as an ABLE Advisor, I want to serve as an example that people with disabilities can take an active role in their own futures. I hope that my knowledge and experiences can serve as a meaningful example to others, who may be unsure of the process around ABLE accounts.” 

The launch of ANRC’s ABLE Advisory Group coincides with Financial Capability Month. This April observance, also commonly referred to as Financial Literacy Month, is a time for all Americans to increase their knowledge of personal finances and to encourage others to do the same. The ABLE Advisory Group was created to support the efforts of the ANRC in bridging this knowledge gap through dissemination of timely and accurate information.

As a stakeholder focus group, ABLE Advisors will also provide feedback and recommendations on a number of ANRC items, including the AchievABLE app, the ANRC website, a new ANRC Call Center, ABLE webinars and more. Input gathered by the Advisors will mold the ANRC’s activities and provide an overall direction for its work.

To learn more about the individuals selected to be a part of the 2018 ABLE Advisory Group, please visit:


ABLE Advisor

ABLE Account Owner
Norfolk, VA
MiABLE Program

Sarah Perez is saving for transportation, continuing education classes, her YMCA Membership and art supplies.

Sarah Perez uses funds in her ABLE account to pay for gasoline and maintenance on her car to get to volunteering obligations, to buy art supplies for mixed media collages, to purchase her YMCA membership and to take adult enrichment classes. These activities improve her quality of life and help her manage her mental health. Sarah opened her ABLE account in 2017 to help pay hospital and medical bills that stemmed from surgeries related to the neurological condition Psuedotumor Cerebri and bipolar disorder. Funds in her ABLE account allow her to save money without jeopardizing her Social Security benefits. Sarah is relieved that she no longer has to struggle to find money for co-payments, travel costs to doctor’s offices, medications and more. In her role as an ABLE Advisor, Sarah wants to educate others about the ABLE Act so that they may have the same opportunities that she has had since she became an ABLE account holder.