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May 23, 2018

Passed during the 2015 Montana Legislative session, a new law allowing a person with disabilities to save money without jeopardizing their Supplement Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid benefits was passed. It is called a Montana ABLE account which stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience. An individual who became disabled before his/her 26th birthday is eligible to have one ABLE account. Additional eligibility criteria include: the disability will last, or has lasted, at least a year; owner (beneficiary) of account lives in Montana; medical documentation of the onset of a disability before age 26; and one of the following: eligibility for SSI because of disability; experiencing blindness as determined by Social Security Administration; or able to produce a signed diagnosis form by a licensed physician reflecting onset of disability prior to age 26.

The maximum annual amount in 2018 that can be contributed to an ABLE account is $15,000. This contribution amount will be increased when the federal annual gift exemption amount is increased. The first $100,000 in an ABLE account is exempt from SSI individual resource limit eligibility test. If the account has over $100,000, the SSI will be suspended but not terminated. SSI will be reinstated once the amount drops to or below $100,000.

A person with a disability can open the account for him/herself. Alternatively, a person with signature authority can establish and control an ABLE account for a beneficiary who is a minor child or an individual who is otherwise incapable of managing the account. Those who can make contributions to a Montana ABLE account and receive a tax deduction include the owner of the account, his/her spouse, parents or step parents. While friends and relatives may contribute to a Montana ABLE account, the contribution is not tax-deductible.

Qualified disability expenses not covered by insurance or Medicaid that can be paid from an ABLE account include, but are not limited to: education, housing, transportation, health and wellness, financial management and administrative services and legal fees, employment training and support, assistive technology and/or personal support services. The earnings on Montana ABLE account investments grow tax-free and withdrawals are tax-free, if used for qualified disability expenses.

An ABLE account can be opened through the multi-state consortium that Montana is a part of. An initial minimum contribution of $25 is required to open a Montana ABLE account. Call 888-609-3461 or visit

The above information has been summarized from a recently published MSU Extension MontGuide (#MT201809HR) which includes much more information about Montana ABLE accounts. It, along with many additional MontGuides, can be accessed at

Additional information is available by contacting Janell at the Chouteau County Extension Office at 622-3036, or in the Chouteau County Courthouse at 1308 Franklin St in Fort Benton.

Follow us on Facebook @ChouteauCountyExtension to keep up to date on what is happening in Chouteau County Extension and 4-H.

Montana State University, US Department of Agriculture and Montana Counties Cooperating. MSU Extension is an equal opportunity/affirmative action provider of educational outreach.


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