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ABLE Accounts

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ABLE Accounts for Special Needs Persons

Recipients of Social Security Supplemental Income and Medicaid are limited in the amount of money they can earn while continuing to receive those public benefits.   In fact, those benefits can be reduced if a person makes an income above a certain limit. ABLE Accounts help solve this problem.

Some of you caregivers are caring for a person who may outlive you.  This person may be a child with a disability or a young adult with a disability who will need continued assistance even when they are adults.  They may need education and employment training to find some kind of work where they can contribute whatever amount they can for their own support.  These people may need assistive technology, personal care aides, transportation that is suitable for their disability, like a wheelchair van. As adults they will need money for health care, financial management services, and funeral and burial expenses. However, because of the disability and their limited ability to work, they will probably have to depend upon government benefits as adults.

ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience)

Recent legislation has created a new federal account which will help such people to maintain their eligibility for SSI and Medicaid and keep some extra money for disability-related expenses in the future.  These state-administered accounts are called ABLE accounts (Achieving a Better Life Experience).

ABLE accounts are a beneficial way for family caregivers, friends and relatives to help that disabled person maintain a better standard of living than being completely dependent on public benefits like SSI and Medicaid.

ABLE accounts will allow for the creation of savings accounts to pay for disability-related expenses and  are not counted against Supplemental Security Income  or Medicaid asset limits.  With an ABLE account, an individual can save up to $14,000 a year with a lifetime maximum of $100,000. ABLE accounts offer tax benefits for qualifying expenses. The beneficiary of the account is the account owner, and income earned by the accounts will not be taxed.

Learn more about Family Caregiving through our article The Upside of Family Caregivers.

Qualifications

The ABLE Act limits eligibility to individuals with significant disabilities. The onset of the disability should be before 26 years of age. If you meet this age criteria and are also receiving benefits already under SSI and/or SSDI, you are automatically eligible to establish an ABLE account. If you are not a recipient of SSI and/or SSDI, but still meet the age of onset disability requirement, you may  be eligible to have an ABLE account if you meet Social Security’s definition and criteria regarding significant functional limitations and receive a letter of certification from a licensed physician. One does not  need not be under the age of 26 to be eligible for an ABLE account.  The person could be over the age of 26 if the disability onset was before their 26th birthday.

ABLE accounts can be established to allow family and friends to give money to an individual who  will have disability-related expenses in the future.  Each state will have responsibility for administering ABLE accounts, and each state has different plans for the accounts.

See this website to learn more about ABLE accounts.

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