An opportunity for New Mexicans with disabilities to save is coming Jan. 18.
ABLE New Mexico will allow people with disabilities to contribute to an investment account without jeopardizing other benefits such as Social Security or Medicare. The program – administered by the State Treasurer’s Office – is launching Jan. 18.
ABLE New Mexico gives people with disabilities a path to financial independence by increasing their ability to save. All the earnings through the program are tax free.
Participants will be able to contribute up to $15,000 per year into their account. Prior to passage of the Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act by the U.S. Congress in 2014, people receiving healthcare and other benefits were allowed to only save about $2,000 of their own money without jeopardizing their benefits. The New Mexico Legislature passed its own version of the ABLE Act in 2016. The State Treasurer’s Office is working in partnership with the Ohio STABLE Account Program to administer the New Mexico program.
The investment account is similar to tax-free 529 college investment accounts. Funds from ABLE accounts can be used for qualifying disability-related expenses such as education, housing, transportation, healthcare, assistive technology and employment training and support. Non-qualified expenditures from the account are not illegal, but can have an impact on other benefits and may incur tax penalties.
There are no limits on withdrawals on an ABLE New Mexico account and participants can transfer funds to their checking or savings accounts. Participants can also use a STABLE Card, which is used like a normal debit card.
To be eligible to sign up, participants must have developed the disability before their 26th birthday, have been living with their disability for a least a year or expect the disability to last at least a year, and are entitled to Social Security Insurance or Social Security Disability Insurance.
Participants are limited to $15,000 in contributions to the program. If funds in a participant’s account exceed $100,000, SSI benefits will be suspended. One thing to consider when signing up for the program is that if the participant dies, Medicaid can request reimbursement from the account. In addition, the program allows cash gifts to be contributed to individual accounts.
Participants can choose from four Vanguard mutual funds in which to invest or one FDIC-insured option in which principal contributions are protected.
Starting on Jan. 18, people with disabilities who are interested in the program will be able to get more information on eligibility or to sign up online at www.ableNewMexico.com. Enrollment takes about 20 minutes and can be completed by the individuals with the disability or their Authorized Legal Representative.
Media inquiries should be directed to Heather R. Benavidez, Liaison Officer with the New Mexico State Treasurer’s Office at 505.955.1136 or Julie Filatoff, executive assistant to the Treasurer at 505.955.1131.