What is CalABLE?
CalABLE is a tax-advantaged savings and investment program designed to help eligible individuals save for disability-related expenses without jeopardizing their public benefits.
What is a CalABLE account?
A CalABLE account is a savings and investment account. ABLE-eligible individuals (and their friends, family and employers) may contribute up to $15,000 a year to a CalABLE account without jeopardizing public benefits such as SSI and Medicaid. Account beneficiaries who work can potentially contribute additional funds.
Earnings and withdrawals in a CalABLE account receive tax-free treatment, provided the funds are used for Qualified Disability Expenses
Who is eligible to open a CalABLE account?
CalABLE accounts may be opened by or on behalf of an eligible individual. An eligible individual is a person who:
- Is entitled to SSI or SSDI because of a disability or has blindness as determined by the Social Security Act; or
- Has a disability certification (a signed diagnosis by a licensed physician).
In all cases, the blindness or disability must have occurred before age 26.
Do I have to be a resident of California to open an account?
No, residents of any U.S. state can open a CalABLE account.
Who can set up a CalABLE account?
An Eligible Individual, or an Authorized Legal Representative (the parent, legal guardian or conservator of an Eligible Individual, or the holder of a power of attorney for an Eligible Individual) can set up an ABLE Account.
How can I use a CalABLE account?
Money in your ABLE account can be used to pay for Qualified Disability Expenses (QDEs). An expense is "qualified" if:
- You incurred the expense at a time when you were considered an eligible individual;
- The expense relates to your disability; and
- The expense helps you to maintain or improve your health, independence or quality of life.
What if I use my account for a Non-Qualified Expense?
You may have to pay income taxes, plus a 10% additional federal tax and a 2.5% California state tax on the earnings portion of any withdrawal not used for QDEs. Additionally, the non-qualified funds you withdraw may be counted against you for purposes of determining your eligibility for public benefits programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Are there limits on how much I can contribute to a CalABLE account?
Currently, the maximum Annual Contribution Limit is $15,000. This amount is subject to change periodically based on the annual federal gift tax limit, which is currently $15,000.
Account owners/beneficiaries who are employed can contribute additional amounts above the $15,000 annual limit. For example, in 2019, eligible working individuals living in the 48 contiguous United States can contribute an amount equal to their current year gross income up to an additional $12,490 ($15,600 for Alaska and $14,380 for Hawaii).
The maximum balance allowed for a CalABLE account is $529,000, but you should consider the impact to your disability benefits. Once your account balance exceeds $100,000, your SSI would be suspended and your eligibility for California state and local means-tested programs could be affected. However, your account balance will never affect your eligibility for Medicaid/Medi-Cal.
Is there a minimum amount required to open an account?
There is a minimum contribution amount of $25 to open a CalABLE account. Subsequent contributions minimums are also $25.
What are the fees for a CalABLE account?
CalABLE accounts have a low annual flat fee of $37. In addition, there is a State Administrative Fee, as well as low fees on the underlying investment options. Additional fees include the following:
- $10 per year if you choose to receive paper statements/mail document delivery.
- $20 if your electronic funds transfer is rejected or if your check bounces.
- $5 for each time you request a check withdrawal.
How do I open an account?
CalABLE allows participants to easily establish and maintain their accounts online. To open an account, please visit www.CalABLE.ca.gov and click on "Open an Account." Once your account is open, you can manage it (for example, update your contact information, make a contribution, check your balance or request a withdrawal) by logging into your account on www.CalABLE.ca.gov.
How do I add money to my account?
Contributions can be made online to your account at www.CalABLE.ca.gov.
Who can contribute money to my account?
Anyone can contribute to your CalABLE account -- you, your friends, your family, business, employer, trust or a corporation.
How can my family and friends contribute to my account?
We offer a gifting tool which allows you to ask friends and family for gifts on holidays, special occasions or to help you reach a financial goal. All you have to do is create an eGift event at any time. We will send out an email with a unique link and a personalized message, instructing recipients on how to make an online contribution. The email can be sent to as many friends and family as you like.
Check contributions will also be accepted.
- Make check payable to CalABLE and mail to:
P.O. Box 44309,
Jacksonville, FL 32231
- Include the beneficiary name and account number to which the contribution should be applied.
How do I withdraw money from my account?
Simply log into your CalABLE account online and request a withdrawal. The withdrawal can be sent to your bank electronically, loaded onto your CalABLE Prepaid Card, or you can request a check be sent to you for a small fee. Through the check option, participants can request a check payable to themselves or a third party to pay bills or other Qualified Disability Expenses.
Is there a prepaid or debit card available?
A prepaid card will be available in 2019. Please check the CalABLE website and your email for updates about this coming feature.
Will a CalABLE account affect my government benefits?
Your CalABLE account will not count against your eligibility for federal or California state benefits, unless your account exceeds a balance of $100,000. Once your account exceeds $100,000 your SSI would be suspended and your eligibility for California state and local means-tested programs could be at risk. Your account balance will never affect your eligibility for Medicaid/Medi-Cal.
For example, if you have $2,500 in your CalABLE account, that $2,500 does not count as an asset for purposes of determining your eligibility for federal or California public benefits programs, like SSI or Medicaid.
If you receive SSI benefits and your CalABLE account balance exceeds $100,000, your SSI benefits will be suspended (but not terminated). Once your balance drops below the maximum account balance, you can notify the Social Security Administration to have your SSI benefits resume, and you may resume making contributions to your account.
In addition, money you withdraw and use for housing expenses may affect your SSI benefits if you do not spend it right away. To avoid any impact to your SSI benefits, be sure to spend housing money within the same calendar month that you withdraw it. For example, if you withdraw $500 from your CalABLE account on January 3rd for rent, you must pay that rent money by January 31st. As long as you do not hold housing funds over from one calendar month to the next, they will not affect your SSI benefits.
Can I roll over a 529 college savings plan into my CalABLE account?
You can roll over amounts from a 529 college savings plan into your CalABLE account tax-free. Keep in mind that 529 rollovers count as part of your annual $15,000 contribution limit. In addition, the IRS allows for one ABLE Program to ABLE Program transfer every 12 months.
Meet Tyler Schutz
Tyler has had 15 surgeries, with the last one costing over $22,000. Despite his disability, Tyler has just started his third year at city college...