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Monday, 12 March, 2018

Social Security Administration Releases Updated Guidance on ABLE

On March 8, 2018 the Social Security Administration (SSA) published an updated version of its Program Operations Manual System (POMS) regarding the ABLE Act and ABLE accounts. POMS is based upon the law and is an operational policy reference used by SSA internal staff to conduct SSA business. Highlights include:

  • Partnerships that States can use to administer ABLE accounts. The partnerships identified include: (1) a consortium where the State has their own ABLE program, but joins other States so that it can provide lower administrative costs and better investment options than they could provide on their own; (2) States with their own ABLE program but contract with private companies or with other States to manage their ABLE program; and (3) States which do not operate their own ABLE program, but partner with another State to offer the other State’s ABLE program to their residents. 
  • Treatment of duplicate ABLE accounts. If there is more than one ABLE account administered by a qualified ABLE program, it discusses treatment of the account as a resource except for cases of a rollover or program-to-program transfer.
  • Clarification of excluded contributions. It clarifies the exclusion of contributions made into an ABLE account as income to the beneficiary, and it explains what income is countable when deposited into an ABLE account via direct deposit or otherwise.  It discusses transfer of funds from a trust and when an ABLE contribution will be treated as a completed gift. 
  • Simplification of Qualified Disability Expense (QDE) examples to make them more general at the request of the IRS. The references to qualified disability expenses (QDEs) were changed to be consistent with the IRS’ ABLE law*. 
  • Data Exchange. It explains when the States began reporting data to SSA on a monthly basis and includes a list of the shared data.  
  • Usage of debit cards. It provides details of the information that SSA will receive via data exchange about distributions made via an ABLE prepaid debit card.  Monies distributed onto an ABLE prepaid debit card are considered a qualified distribution unless determined otherwise.  

For more information on ABLE and ABLE accounts, please visit the ABLE National Resource Center website.

*Final IRS regulations have not been published, therefore the IRS position could change when the regulations are finalized. If this happens, SSA ABLE policy will be updated accordingly.

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