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April 2018




Many people have asked, “Why should I open an ABLE account?”  Instead of hearing the answer from us at the State Treasurer’s Office, we went straight to Illinois ABLE account owner Julia, and her mom Janet.  Julia doesn’t let her disability get in the way of her independence, but when it comes to saving money for her disability-related expenses, she wants a little support.  So, Julia granted Janet the authority to open and manage Julia’s ABLE account. Here is what they shared with us:


1.  Why did you decide to open an IL ABLE account? Janet: “Julia had some savings from presents as well as some salary she received from two jobs. We wanted to have a better vehicle for these savings that wouldn’t disqualify her from receiving SSI/SSDI and would also allow her to have moneys for further education or to pay medical bills not otherwise covered by benefits programs.”


2.  How did you find the experience of enrolling in Illinois ABLE? Janet:“On our first try at enrolling, we didn’t get the forms filled out quite right, but everyone at Illinois ABLE customer service was very helpful.  They walked us through the process.”


3.  Julia, what things did you consider that helped you decide to ask your mom to be your Authorized Individual on your Illinois ABLE account? Julia: “My mom has always been the parent who helps me with money and planning like that.”


4.  Do you have any plans for how you will use the funds in your ABLE account? Julia: “Not immediately but it is a comfort to know that it is there.”


5.  What does having an ABLE account mean for you and your family? Janet: “It gives a layer of financial security to Julia.   She has several medical conditions that require specialty treatments and seeing specialists.   Insurance covers some of it now but when Julia’s dad retires her health insurance coverages probably won’t be as generous.   It is a real comfort to know that we can accumulate some funds when we can afford to, so that she will have them when she needs that money.”


6.  Julia, any final thoughts? Julia: “I don’t need to add anything. Well said Mom!”


To enroll in Illinois ABLE, visit


Do you have an ABLE story to tell?  Contact JJ Hanley at



  1. If you are an ABLE account owner, you do not pay federal or state taxes on the earnings on your IL ABLE account if your withdrawals are for your disability-related expenses.
  2. If you owned an ABLE Account in 2017, you should have received tax form 5498 (shows contributions) and tax form 1099QA (shows distributions). For questions about these forms, contact your tax advisor.
  3. The Treasurer’s office has proposed legislation to the Illinois General Assembly to allow a state income tax deduction for contributions to ABLE accounts.  Many disability advocacy groups support this effort.  If you want to offer your support, contact your local legislator.




Our next ABLE presentation will take place on Thursday, April 12, from 10:30am - noon at CJE Senior Life Center at 3003 W Touhy Avenue, Chicago.  The space is ADA accessible.  For more information click here.

Do you want the Treasurer's Office to host an ABLE presentation for a group in your area?  Contact JJ Hanley at


March 2018 




The “Medicaid Clawback.”  This is the nickname that the disability community gave to a part of the federal ABLE law.  That law says that if certain ABLE Account Owners (persons with a disability who own ABLE Accounts) receive Medicaid benefits, and the Account Owner dies, state Medicaid Agencies (In Illinois that’s the Department of Health and Family Services) have the option to place a claim on the assets in the deceased’s ABLE account.  This claim would be placed in order to recover Medicaid benefits that the deceased Account Owner received between the time the Account was opened and the day the Account Owner died.  Wow!  That’s a lot of information!


Some states – Pennsylvania, Oregon, Delaware and California to name a few – have already passed legislation that keeps their states’ Medicaid agencies from “clawing back” funds from certain deceased owners’ ABLE accounts. 


The State Treasurer’s office is working to pass similar legislation here in Illinois (HB 4754/SB 2660) and we need your help! We’ve heard loudly and clearly from Illinois families and disability advocates that they do not want their private ABLE savings taken by Medicaid should the Account Owner die.  Account Owners use their ABLE funds to help pay for disability expenses that Medicaid often doesn’t cover, things that help improve quality of life and community participation.  Our State should remove its option to place a claim on ABLE assets of Account Owner if the person dies. 


The legislation we hope to pass is called “ABLE Asset Protection.”  If you agree that this legislation should be passed, please tell Illinois lawmakers by filing a Witness Slip here before March 7


BUT… and this IMPORTANT!  It is important to understand that even if this law is passed, there is still in place a federal law (section 1917(b) of the Social Security Act) that requires states to lay a claim to assets in the estates of specific individuals who “received Medicaid at the age of 55 or older, or who received coverage for certain Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) and who were subject to Post Eligibility Treatment of Income (PETI) rules.” Please talk with your benefits specialist to understand your specific situation. 





The accessABLE information and enrollment road trip is coming to a location near you! Our next event will be in Evanston  at the Center for Independent Future & No Boundaries on March 22, 2018 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Seating is limited, so don't delay! Reserve your spot here.



TRUE OR FALSE? (FROM A READER) I cannot open an ABLE account if I am older than age 26.


False!  You can open your ABLE account after age 26 as long as the symptoms of your qualifying disability were present before age 26.   For example, let’s say you received a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder at age 28 and you begin receiving SSI benefits.  As long as your physician certifies in writing that your mental health symptoms were present prior to age 26, you can open your ABLE account and begin using the funds you save for the expenses that come with having a disability.


February 2018




Wendy Settles is a young professional who works as a housing specialist for Impact Center for Independent Living in Alton, IL. She helps individuals with disabilities get out of nursing homes and into integrated community living. Wendy opened her ABLE account about a year ago. 


“At first I thought ABLE was too good to be true.  But I now know that having an Illinois ABLE account means financial security.  I work most of the time, but there are times when I am not working, so I have to go back to being on SSI. I lost my work for 9 months when a grant I was working under was pulled and for most of that I was on unemployment, but for the last few months I had to go back on SSI. It would have put me at ease if I could have had an ABLE account, but they didn’t exist then.


Now, if I get laid off from my job, and I hope I won’t, I will have some savings to help get me through until I land a new job. If I live only on SSI, it barely covers my rent.  I don’t know what I would do without ABLE.  It reduces stress and I don’t have to worry as much because of my Illinois ABLE account.


Right now I use the checking account option.  It’s there as my safety net.  I've already reached my first goal which was to save enough money for a down payment on an accessible vehicle. Eventually, I would like to buy a house.  And I would like to work toward my master’s degree in public administration.  I have a long way to go, but I am saving for it. 


Once the people I serve get out into the community, ABLE will play a role for them too.  It was so easy to set up and now I try to explain to others who feel the way I felt.  I talk about it all the time because it is such an awesome program.


I don’t understand the age restriction for something like this because disability can happen at any age.  I was born with my disability, but I know a lot more people with acquired disabilities than with disabilities from birth.  That age restriction is arbitrary.  I don’t understand it.  It’s very discriminatory.”


Thanks Wendy!  We are working right now with lawmakers in Congress to raise the age qualification limit to 46 from 26. 




Tips to get the most out of “A Better Life Experience” accounts


If the symptoms of your disability were present before age 26 and your disability meets the definition of used by the Social Security Administration, you qualify to open an ABLE Account.  If your disability was diagnosed after 26 but you have a written certification from a physician that it was present before age 26, you qualify to open an ABLE account. 


For example, Mary is an adult with a mental health disability.  Her symptoms were present during her teens, but she received her written diagnosis from a doctor when she was 28.  Her doctor noted that her symptoms were present starting at age 14 and that her disability meets the Social Security definition of ABLE.  Mary can open an ABLE account!


You can open an ABLE account even if you are not receiving federal means-tested benefits, such as SSI, as long as you meet the age and disability qualifications, and you have documentation for your physician.


If you are unable or uncomfortable managing your own ABLE account, an authorized individual can open and manage your account for you.  To learn more visit Illinois ABLE.  





More than $1.3 million have been invested in Illinois ABLE in the first year of this groundbreaking program that fosters greater financial independence and quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families! 


Through the Illinois Achieving a Better Life Experience program, individuals, families and friends can contribute a total of up to $15,000 each year into a an account owner’s  ABLE account and  the account balance can reach $100,000 without causing the account owner to lose, or lose access to, federal means-tested benefits such as SSI.  AND, if you are an ABLE account owner who is working and earning money you can deposit more than $15,000 maximum annual limit when you deposit your earnings into your ABLE account.  No more $2,000 SSI asset limit with an ABLE account.


For more information or to open an account, visit Illinois ABLE.



TRUE OR FALSE? I can only open an ABLE account in the state where I live.


FALSE – You can open your ABLE account in any state that has an ABLE program and that is available for enrollment by residents of other states.  However, it is a good idea to look at your own state’s program first before choosing a program.  That is because there may be benefits to you in your state’s program, for example a state tax deduction for contributions or lower account maintenance fees.