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State begins savings plan for disabled residents

ALBANY – As many as 800,000 New Yorkers with a disability could be eligible to enroll in a new savings plan that will not jeopardize their access to financial assistance through programs such as Social Security and Medicaid.

“We want to get the word out,’’ said State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, whose office is administering the program.

Modeled on the 529 college savings plan, though without some of the tax benefits, the NY ABLE program allows disabled people to create a savings account with up to $100,000. Anyone, such as a disabled person’s relatives, can put money into an individual’s account, But unlike the college plan, the money  would not qualify for tax deduction. Earnings do grow tax-free, and qualified withdrawals for such expenses as education, transportation and health care, are also not taxed.

Like the college plan, NY ABLE is run through DiNapoli’s office, which has contracted with an outside firm to offer participants one of four investment vehicles – from conservative to aggressive with more risks. Annual contributions to an individual’s plan are capped at $14,000.

The program is allowed under a 2014 federal law. A state law permitting New York to join what are now 28 states offering the savings plan was signed in December 2015.

DiNapoli and advocates said the program should help provide some financial security for disabled people who might otherwise lose key benefits under means-tested programs like Supplemental Security Income.

To be eligible, individuals must be a New York resident and meet conditions, such as being eligible to receive SSI payments and have a disability present before age 26. Those who have had disabilities present before age 26 can also participate with a written diagnosis from a physician, or if they blind or if their disability is one of long list of diseases and conditions on the federal Social Security Administration’s Lost of Compassionate Allowances Conditions.

Information about the program is at or 855-569-2253.

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