Beginning in December of 2018, CalABLE accounts have been available to people who acquired significant disabilities before the age of 26. These accounts allow a greater amount of control over our own finances than ever before as funds in ABLE accounts do not jeopardize access to important benefits like SSI or Medi-Cal or require a trustee to be involved in transactions or administration of the account.
If you are anything like me, the idea of introducing a new disability related system into your life is intimidating. Too often these systems are confusing, time consuming, and come with hidden rules which can make life harder. Last week I finally pushed through these fears and opened my own CalABLE account. I was delighted to learn that it was incredibly easy to set up and the rules are quite transparent.
Setting Up Your Account
- To set up an account you need:
Social Security number, date of birth and contact information for the beneficiary
- Social Security number for the authorized legal representative (if different from the account owner/beneficiary)
- Bank account information (account number and bank routing number)
Once you have gathered all of the above information visit https://calable.ca.gov and click the yellow button that says “Open an Account,” then follow the prompts and enter your information. This process took me about 10 minutes.
Once you have entered all of your information, including the routing number for the bank account you are making the initial deposit from, you will be told that CalABLE will make small deposits into the account within 48 hours to verify the account information. The final step to open your CalABLE account is to find these deposits in the account you are transferring funds from and to enter the amounts back on the CalABLE website to confirm the transfer. This took less than 2 minutes to do, though I did waste some time repeatedly checking my bank account to see if the deposits had come through, largely because I still couldn’t believe the process was this easy.
The Basic Rules
- Anyone can deposit up to $15,000 per year
- You can have up to $100,000 in your account without jeopardizing benefits such as SSI/SSP
- Money in a CalABLE account must be spent on qualified disability expenses or it may be subject to taxes
I plan to use my account as an emergency fund as my body tends to shift over time in unpredictable ways. Having money set aside that I can easily access just in case takes a significant amount of stress out of life. Other people use their CalABLE accounts in a number of ways; rent, education, in home services, just to name a few. To learn more or open an account for yourself or a loved one visit: https://calable.ca.gov