WI23-10: Improving Financial Security for People with Disabilities through ABLE Accounts



ABLE accounts are designed to promote financial security and independence among people with disabilities. They allow eligible individuals to accumulate and use savings for a range of purposes without jeopardizing their benefits. Yet very few people with disabilities take advantage of this opportunity. Recent data suggests only about 1 percent of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients have an account, despite SSI recipients being particularly poised to benefit from ABLE, as it allows them to avoid the stringent countable asset limit.

Our study will assess barriers that impede take-up of such accounts. We will enroll and seed 400 new ABLE accounts among eligible people in Illinois, each with $100. Our mixed methods analysis will include qualitative interviews, brief surveys with new ABLE enrollees who sign up for seeded accounts, and administrative data analysis on ABLE participation among these new enrollees. Through this approach, we will build the evidence base regarding the barriers that lead many people and families likely to benefit from ABLE accounts to avoid these savings vehicles. We are particularly interested in the relative importance of barriers to take-up, such as limited financial resources to save, limited knowledge and understanding of the program, and real or perceived administrative complexities. Our study seeks to help policymakers design effective approaches to overcome these barriers.


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