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Is Food a Qualified Disability Expense?

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In March 2020, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) clarified that food is considered a “qualified disability expense” for ABLE accounts.

Available in section B(9) of the SSA’s updated ABLE Program Operations Manual System (POMS), this official guidance provides reassurance to ABLEnow account owners that qualified disability expenses can be broadly construed to include a wide range of expenses that maintain or improve health, independence or quality of life. An ABLEnow account may be used to pay for the account owner’s groceries, food delivery, restaurant meals, takeout and more.

The ability to use funds in an ABLE account on food expenses make ABLE accounts an attractive savings option for eligible individuals to consider in addition to—or instead of—a Special Needs Trust (SNT). Unlike a SNT, which classifies food expenses as income, an ABLE account can be used to pay for food without impacting means-tested Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

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