What Is the ABLE Act?
Disability benefits are available through the Social Security Administration (SSA) to help those who suffer from disabilities pay for their medical and living expenses when they are unable to work.
One form of disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), is based on financial need and requires certain income and asset limits for eligibility.
A recent piece of legislation called the ABLE Act now enables SSI recipients to save money without the fear of losing their eligibility.
Benefits of the ABLE Act
The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act was enacted in 2013 in response to the asset limits for SSI benefits. To be eligible for SSI benefits, individuals must own no more than $2,000 in assets, or $3,000 if married. Otherwise, they will lose their disability benefit status.
This creates problems in that SSI benefit recipients are unable to save money for fear of losing their benefits, causing them to be unable to advance from their current financial situation and feel “stuck” in the financial situation caused by their disability.
With the ABLE Act, these people can open a tax-free savings account and save money, while still receiving their SSI benefits. This money will not be counted towards the $2,000 or $3,000 asset limit.
Money from an ABLE savings account can be used for qualified disability expenses, such as medical bills, rent, quality of life spending, and more.
A total of $14,000 can be added into an ABLE savings account per year – and this can be combined among the individual and their family. The total amount of savings for an ABLE account depends on the limit decided by the state in which the account was opened.
An individual can save up to $100,000 in an ABLE account before their SSI status is affected – and it will only be suspended, not completely terminated.
Which States Have Enacted ABLE?
Most states have enacted ABLE programs or are in the process of working on the legislation to create one. A recent Tax Extenders Bill also eliminated one restriction to the ABLE Act, and now allows you to open an ABLE savings account in any state, not just the state in which you reside.
The states that have enacted an ABLE program include:
Hire a Lawyer
Do you receive SSI benefits through the SSA and have questions about the ABLE Act? Consider hiring a lawyer or disability advocate to help you understand your options.A lawyer or advocate can help you find out of the ABLE Act applies to you, explain your income and asset limits, and more. In general, a lawyer or advocate can also help you apply for SSI disability benefits in general, so that either way, you can start to receive the financial assistance you need and deserve.