By Teresa Herbert, MSW, Maryland ABLE Outreach Ambassador
Maryland Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) welcomes changes that will benefit people with disabilities in Maryland! During the 2023 Maryland legislative session, Maryland ABLE Program Account Establishment Procedures (HB354/SB343) was passed and signed into law by Governor Wes Moore on May 16, 2023, and took effect on June 1, 2023. This new law simplifies the process of creating a Maryland ABLE account by expanding the list of people who are qualified to assist an individual with setting up an account.
An individual who is eligible for a Maryland ABLE account may set up the account themselves, or they may choose a person to set up the account for them. Some individuals who are eligible to open a Maryland ABLE account might need assistance with completing the process. A power of attorney is able to set up a Maryland ABLE account for qualified individuals. Those who need assistance, but do not have a power of attorney, now have access to a concise list of individuals which identifies those who are qualified to help. In addition to a power of attorney, a conservator or legal guardian is also qualified to help set up a Maryland ABLE account. If an individual requires assistance, but does not have a power of attorney, conservator, or legal guardian, the following people, in this order, may help set up their ABLE account: spouse, parent, sibling, grandparent, or a representative payee appointed by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The ABLE Age Adjustment Act was recently passed and will go into effect starting in 2026. This Act will affect the qualifying age of disability onset, expanding the qualification from 26 years old to 46. This means a disability must be present prior to age 46 for an individual to qualify for a Maryland ABLE account. This change will allow more people with disabilities to save or invest money without losing federal and state benefits, like Social Security Insurance (SSI) or Medicaid.
Maryland ABLE account holders may now sign up for a direct deposit option for their paychecks. As a reminder, paychecks count as earnings by the SSA, even if direct deposited. Direct deposit of SSA benefits is also available with a Maryland ABLE account. In addition, an SSA beneficiary recipient or representative payee may have SSA benefits directly deposited into a Maryland ABLE account. Maryland ABLE will soon have this feature added for account holders through their online account. Direct deposit for SSA benefits can be activated by calling the SSA national number, 1-800-772-1213; visiting a local SSA office; or going online at www.ssa.gov/myaccount.
Maryland ABLE accounts promote the financial well-being of people with disabilities, and now the process to create an account is available to more people and easier than ever before!