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My Journey with NY ABLE: Navigating Financial Freedom as a Disabled Individual


Hello everyone, Jensen Caraballo here. If you've been following my advocacy work or my social media platforms, you know that financial independence and planning are significant aspects of disability justice. Today, I'd like to delve into the NY ABLE program—a tax-advantaged savings account designed for individuals with disabilities, like myself.

What is an NY ABLE Account?

First, a brief overview: NY ABLE, part of the broader Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE), is New York State's version of the program that allows disabled individuals to save money without jeopardizing their eligibility for federal benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. The account offers various investment options, and the best part? The earnings grow tax-free if used for qualified disability expenses, which range from healthcare and education to housing and transportation.

Why Did I Choose NY ABLE?

Being actively involved in the disability justice arena, I've always been vigilant about financial planning options that could positively impact my community. NY ABLE struck me as a brilliant avenue for several reasons:

1. Asset Protection: This program shields up to $100,000 from being counted as an asset for SSI benefits.

2. Contribution Flexibility: Family, friends, and I can contribute up to the annual federal gift tax limit.

3. State-Specific Benefits: As a resident of New York, choosing the NY ABLE program gave me certain tax advantages.

My Experience

Opening the account was a straightforward process, and management has been hassle-free. I found the program's user interface intuitive, allowing me to track my investments and plan my financial future. I've utilized the funds for several disability-related expenses such as assistive technology, personal support services, and healthcare. So far, my experience has been empowering.

How ABLE Accounts Align with My Advocacy Work

As someone who serves on the Board of Directors of the SPM Disability Justice Fund and the Consumer Directed Action of New York, I see enormous potential in ABLE accounts as tools for financial planning and independence within the disabled community. They can be particularly impactful for individuals living with long-term conditions who require sustained medical care and support.

Challenges and Caveats

While ABLE accounts offer numerous benefits, it's crucial to understand their limitations, such as the age limit for the qualifying disability (before 26) and annual contribution caps. Also, it's essential to ensure the funds are used for qualified disability expenses to reap the tax benefits fully.

Navigating financial pathways as a disabled individual has its set of challenges, but programs like NY ABLE make it easier for us to plan for a secure future. I encourage all eligible individuals to explore these accounts and integrate them into their financial plans. Trust me, your future self will thank you.

Thank you for joining me on this exploration of NY ABLE accounts. I'll continue to advocate for disability justice, both in the financial sphere and beyond, and I encourage you to engage in these crucial conversations. Until next time, this is Jensen Caraballo, signing off.

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