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August 2018




Many parents who are raising a child with a disability fear that day when the bus stops coming. For parents, it refers to the day when their child reaches ages 18 or 22 and all school, educational supports and interventions to which the child has been entitled come to halt. “The bus stops coming” and the child enters the world of adulthood, where the child and the family now must take the wheel and begin to drive the bus on their own.  


It’s important to begin planning early for the day when the bus stops coming.  Decisions must be made and managed, such as how the adult child’s day will be filled, figuring out housing, looking for job training and employment, setting up transportation and managing benefits.


Illinois ABLE accounts are helping many families plan for the day when the bus stops coming by providing a savings and investment plan that allows individuals with disabilities and their families to save to provide means to help with the disability expenses of the child. Private funds, up to $15,000 aggregate per year, can be contributed to the child’s Illinois ABLE account -  from parents, grandparents, family and friends, even the public! Earnings accrue tax-deferred and withdrawals from the account are tax-free as long as the funds are used for disability-related expenses.  Funds can be used for qualified expenses at any time – even before the bus stops coming.


To learn more about how Illinois ABLE can help in planning for a more secure financial future for your child visit






The answer is FALSE! “Achieving a Better Life Experience” ABLE accounts allow eligible individuals and their families to save and invest private funds without affecting their eligibility for SSI, Medicaid and other public benefits.


Understandably, some people are afraid to open ABLE accounts because they fear that they will lose their benefits if assets or “countable resources” exceed $2000.  So, we went to the source – the federal ABLE law. It explains that private savings in an ABLE account provides "secure funding for disability-related expenses on behalf of designated beneficiaries with disabilities that will supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurance, Medicaid, SSI, the beneficiary's employment and other sources."


In essence, the ABLE Act has increased the cap for countable assets from $2,000 to $100,000 for eligible people with disabilities.  If an individual receives SSI benefits, his Illinois ABLE account is exempt from the $2,000 individual resource limit up to $100,000.  If and when the Illinois ABLE account exceeds $100,000, the beneficiary’s SSI cash benefit would be suspended until account the balance falls below $100,000, at which time SSI benefits will resume. In other words, beneficiaries will not have to reapply for SSI benefits once their accounts fall back below $100,000. It is important to note that even if the ABLE account exceeds $100,000, beneficiaries will continue to receive Medicaid benefits.


Owning an Illinois ABLE account will not affect SSI, Medicaid, Medicare, HUD or other federal means-tested benefits. For more information about Illinois ABLE, or to enroll, visit





When you open your Illinois ABLE account, you will be able to choose the investment options that meet your needs.  When you invest, you make choices about what to do with your money and investment risk is something to know about as you decide. 


Investment risk is a measure of uncertainty in your investment and the financial markets, now or in the future. In other words, when you invest your money, the investment may rise or fall as a result of the investment type you choose and financial market conditions, which means that your account balance could increase or decrease over time. The more risk there is, the more your investment could rise or fall. The less risk there is, the less your investment could rise or fall making it “safer.”


Illinois ABLE offers a range of investment options to match both your goals and comfort with risk. From conservative investments that prioritize the preservation of your investment over growth to aggressive options that seek higher returns, Illinois ABLE offers various choices for investors.


With an Illinois ABLE account you can also contribute to an FDIC-insured checking account that lets you withdraw money using a debit card, so you can easily use your funds for everyday expenses. In the ABLE checking account option, your funds are not exposed to market fluctuations and carry minimal risk. This option earns varying rates of interest income and account balances below $250,000 are guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.


To learn more about the investment and checking options offered by the Illinois ABLE plan visit Investment Options at



July 2018



An Illinois ABLE account means greater independence for people with disabilities.  How?

  1. You own your ABLE account.  You – the individual with the disability – are always the owner and the beneficiary of your ABLE account.
  2. If you are an SSI recipient, you still get your SSI benefits when your ABLE account balance goes over $2,000.  In fact, you can save up to $100,000 before your SSI benefits will be impacted.
  3. It’s your money – the funds in your ABLE account are for your use and you do not have to ask permission or get approval to use the funds for your disability-related expenses. 

Now, that’s something to celebrate! For more information about Illinois ABLE, or to enroll, visit





Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs and Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt will join Education Talk Radio Host Larry Jacob on July 11 at 8 a.m. Central Time for a live interview to talk about ABLE “A Better Life Experience” accounts. To listen live go to and click on the live button.  Can’t listen live?  You can download the recorded podcast the next day from the Education Talk Radio website.





As an Illinois ABLE account owner, you can select from six investment options based on your needs and goals, in addition to an optional checking account. Your Illinois ABLE account gives you the flexibility to select the option that makes the most sense to you.  The ABLE checking account option can be used for ongoing expenses that require easy access to funds, such as weekly therapy appointments. 


The six investment options give you flexibility to save for a short, medium and long-term needs, like saving for a rainy day or purchasing accessible equipment.  How will you use your ABLE savings?   To learn more about the investment and checking options offered by the Illinois ABLE plan visit Investment Options at



June 2018



Invest in your future and save up to $100,000 without losing your SSI monthly benefits.  With Illinois ABLE, you can save and invest your own money.  You can pay for the expenses that are part of living with a disability.  That includes things like taking lessons to learn a new skill. If you work, you can save money from your job without worrying about the $2000 asset limit.  Most importantly, with Illinois ABLE you can gain some control and independence for your life!  For more information, or to enroll, visit





This popular, FREE, 3-day event runs from Friday, June 29 through Sunday, July 1 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center.  Don’t miss the ABLE Workshop called “All You Need to Know About Illinois ABLE”, Saturday, June 30 from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. in the Workshop Center at the Expo.  See you there! For more information, visit





Many financial advisors work with clients who have a child with a disability.  Families need to know their options when planning for the additional expenses that come with raising a child with a disability – things like therapy, specialized equipment, clothing, and transportation.  Financial advisors who are knowledgeable about Illinois ABLE accounts, can provide clients with expert advice they are sure to appreciate. 


Recently, the Treasurer’s 529 College Savings and ABLE team partnered with Union Bank and Trust to share information about college savings plans and Illinois ABLE accounts. Several hundred financial advisors attended the events, which were held in the Chicago area and Champaign. 


Would you like an Illinois ABLE presentation for your financial services group, or would you like to receive an Illinois ABLE presentation specially designed for those in the financial services industry? Click here to send us your contact information, and we'll be in touch!



May 2018



It’s graduation season!  ABLE account owner Tim shares his plans and dreams after graduating in May from Edgewood College and the Cutting-Edge Program in Madison, Wisconsin.


What will you do after you graduate from college, Tim? "I will be working as a Para-Educator (Teaching Assistant) in the Mount Horeb Area School District. I already started my job as a Para-Educator in the district in April 2018 before graduation."  

How has your ABLE account helped you manage your expenses during college?: "Well, I currently use my ABLE account to pay my rent for my apartment. But now that I’ll be working I could use my ABLE account as a way of saving money when I make money at my job. It’s always important to save a certain amount of money for important things in life. Another way I could use my ABLE account could be to pay for things that I’m passionate about, like a membership at the health club, running a race in the community, and so many other things." 

What about planning for the future?: "Some of my dreams for the future include living independently like I’m already doing (buying a house one day), working in the schools and helping my students develop a great education, continuing to release music albums of original songs, and performing music in the community. 

I could use my ABLE account to save for the big things down the road. A few things I could save for could be a new house in the future, a new car for when my car starts to not operate as well, or a vacation trip to a place I’ve always wanted to visit." 


Thanks Tim.  And, Happy Graduation!

Big dreams start with ABLE.  Open your account today.





Do you have a child with a disability who is finishing school?  Have you been telling friends and relatives not to write that gift check because you are worried about exceeding the $2000 SSI asset cap?  Worry no more.  Open an ABLE account now and your child with a disability can experience the benefits of launching a future of financial wholeness and security, just like other young adults.   Plus, set up uGift with the ABLE account, and family and friends can contribute graduation money directly to your child’s ABLE account!  Visit and get started.   



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.