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NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015

NY ABLE Program Helps New Yorkers With Disabilities and Their Families Cover Costs

New Savings and Investment Initiative to Help Pay Medical and Living Expenses

October 12, 2017

New York state has a new savings plan, called the New York Achieving a Better Life Experience (NY ABLE) program, designed to help individuals with disabilities maintain their health, independence and quality of life. New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Assemblywoman Aileen M. Gunther and parents and advocates discussed the program today at a press conference in Albany. 

"This program offers families and individuals with disabilities some peace of mind as they plan for the future," DiNapoli said. "Ensuring a loved one’s financial security and long-term care can put a financial strain on families. The NY ABLE program provides families and individuals with a secure and practical way to save and invest funds without jeopardizing their eligibility for many important disability-related benefits." 

The NY ABLE legislation was signed into law in December 2015. The bill authorized the Office of the State Comptroller to administer NY ABLE. DiNapoli’s office also oversees New York’s 529 College Savings Program. The legislation was sponsored by Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) and Assemblywoman Gunther (D, I, WF-Forestburgh). 

"Millions of individuals with disabilities and their families depend on a wide variety of public benefits for income, health care, food and housing assistance. Historically, the eligibility for these public benefits has required people with disabilities to be financially insolvent, denying them the opportunity to plan for the future. This program provides us with a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities. Thank you to Comptroller DiNapoli for managing this program that gives our friends, neighbors and family members throughout this state a better, brighter and more secure future," said Senator Carlucci.

"As New York continues to pursue innovative, community-based care for people with disabilities, it is essential that the men and women of our state be empowered to live healthy, independent lives," said Assemblywoman Gunther. "ABLE accounts will help make independence affordable and attainable for those who need it most. Thank you to Tom DiNapoli and the Office of the State Comptroller for administering this vital program."

The NY ABLE program allows New Yorkers with disabilities to save money in their own names without risking their Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and certain other means-based benefits.* NY ABLE accounts, also known as 529A accounts, can be opened with a minimum contribution of $25. Contributions can be made by eligible individuals, family members or friends, but are not tax-deductible. The annual contribution is capped at $14,000 and the maximum account balance is $100,000. 

The program was modeled after the 529 College Savings Program and adopted under the federal Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014. New York is one of 28 states in the country that offer this type of program. NY ABLE provides a variety of investment options, from conservative to aggressive. 

Earnings and distributions from NY ABLE accounts are tax free provided the funds are used for qualified disability expenses.** These include costs for education, health and wellness, transportation and housing, among other expenses. Users can access funds in several ways, including an optional checking account and debit card.

To be eligible, an individual must have a disability that was present before age 26. Participants must be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), be blind, have a significant disability documented by a physician, or have a disability that is included on the Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowances Conditions list. New York residency is required and only one account per individual is permitted. 

"The more independent my son becomes, the fuller the quality of his life and the stronger the outlook for his future," said John Maltby, a parent who has a son with a NY ABLE account. "The ABLE account is a much needed tool to help him towards that independence."

"My wife and I opened up a NY ABLE account for our son, and it was a very easy process. And just knowing he has this account gives us peace of mind. My son will have more independence, greater financial security and a better quality of life. Something every parent wants for their children," said Jim Vaccaro, a parent who has a son with a NY ABLE account.

"This announcement is a perfect way to honor my son, Nathan, during Down Syndrome Awareness month. I am proud to be a member of the ABLE Council and to have been involved in the passage and ultimate enactment of the bill,” said Kandi Terry, NY ABLE Advisory Committee member.

"On behalf of our 24 Affiliates across the state and the more than 90,000 people with disabilities we support, I want to thank State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, Senator David Carlucci and others who worked to make the NY ABLE Program a reality," said Susan Constantino, president & CEO of the Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State. “This program will provide families with a safe way to help make the future more secure for their loved ones with disabilities."

"The ABLE Act is an historic measure which, for the first time, allows people with disabilities and their families with the opportunity to accumulate savings without impacting eligibility for public assistance. If eligible, people with disabilities can now pay for important and meaningful supports such as transportation, assistive technology, employment training and other services not covered by assistance such as Medicaid. These important supports help people lead healthier, more fulfilling lives with greater independence and a sense of community," said Ann Hardiman, executive director of the NYS Association of Community and Residential Agencies. 

"NYSRA has long been an advocate for employing people with disabilities. NY ABLE accounts provide another important tool in the toolbox to help people to become gainfully employed. People with disabilities can use NY ABLE funds for job training, job coaching and work readiness opportunities; funds that they would not otherwise be able to use without being penalized through loss of public funding," said Michael Seereiter, president & CEO of the NYS Rehabilitation Association.

"We are pleased that New York families now have an additional option for caring for their loved ones’ financial needs which are not covered by other available benefits. The NY ABLE program is a most welcome resource for ensuring a secure future for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities," said Tom McAlvanah, executive director of the InterAgency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies, Inc. 

"NYSARC, Inc. welcomes the launch of the ABLE program to provide people with disabilities and their families with another helpful tool to save for the future without the risk of losing their eligibility for means-tested government benefits. For the right individuals and families, ABLE accounts can be a great savings tool that gives people the ability to live a full life of opportunity and achievement. We encourage people to consult with a professional or special needs planner to determine if an ABLE account is the best tool for their situation," said Tania Seaburg, interim executive director of NYSARC.

To set up an account, go to or call 1-855-5NY-ABLE. A copy of the program’s disclosure booklet and participation agreement is available at

*ABLE programs are intended to supplement other governmental and private benefits, including Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services have not yet provided detailed guidance on how funds in ABLE programs will be treated for purposes of determining Medicaid eligibility. 

**Earnings on non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal and state and local income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax.