New USDA Regulation Confirms ABLE Funds Protection

On January 6th the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), a federal agency under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), published a final rule regarding various aspects related to, among other things, eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

As many know, SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families (including those with disabilities) and provides economic benefits to communities.  Additionally, SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net according to the USDA website.

SNAP is a federally funded means tested benefit, and therefore, in accordance with the Stephen Beck Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, should disregard funds in an ABLE account when determining eligibility for its’ benefits.  The recently released rules confirm and re-iterate that ABLE funds will not compromise otherwise eligible individuals from accessing benefits under the SNAP program.

The ABLE National Resource Center (The Center) thanks FNS, along with the USDA, for publishing this rule and therefore recognizing one of the most prominent features of the ABLE Act, that being allowing individuals with disabilities and their families the ability to save funds without jeopardizing their eligibility for federally funded means tested benefits.

The Center is working with other federal agencies and departments that provide other federally funded means tested benefits to encourage them to publish similar guidance, including the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  That being said, despite the fact that these departments have not yet published such guidance, the Center believes that the ABLE Act alone still allows for these protection and we encourage qualified individuals to seriously consider opening an account.