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Ready & ABLE

A major challenge for individuals with disabilities and their families, is finding the funds to pay for expensive medical treatment, care, and medicine that may be needed on an ongoing basis. Not surprising, many of them depend on government assistance for income, food, healthcare, and housing assistance. However, maintaining eligibility for government assistance programs, such as SSI, SNAP, and Medicaid can be difficult.

To stay eligible for these benefits, a disabled person must remain poor. He or she must satisfy a means or resource test. If a person reports more than allowed in cash savings, retirement funds, and other assets, then he or she may not be able to receive needed benefits. Enter ABLE accounts. These are tax-advantaged savings accounts that will not impact eligibility for government assistance programs.

How Does an ABLE Account Work?

An ABLE account allows individuals with disabilities and their families to set aside funds to defray necessary expenses, without losing eligibility for benefits. The account owner is also the beneficiary of the ABLE account, and any income earned by the accounts is not taxed. Anyone can make contributions, including the account beneficiary, parents, grandparents, other family members and friends.

How May an ABLE Account Be Used?

The ABLE account funds cannot be used for just any reason. Expenditures must be for “qualified” disability expenses. These are expenses resulting from living with disabilities, like expenses related to maintaining the health, independence, and quality of life of individuals with disabilities. Qualified expenses may include education, housing, transportation, job training, assistive technology, and healthcare expenses. An expense is “qualified” if: 1) the expense was incurred when the disabled person was considered an “eligible individual”; 2) the expense relates to the disabled person’s blindness or disability; and 3) the expense helps the disabled person maintain or improve his or her health, independence or quality of life.

Who Is Eligible?

ABLE accounts are available to eligible U.S. citizens and legal residents. Most states offer ABLE accounts and not all of them have a state residency requirement. Both physical and mental disabilities may qualify a person to open an ABLE account.

An eligible individual is someone who first became disabled before age 26 and: is entitled to benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), based on blindness or disability under Title II or XVI of the Social Security Act; or self-certifies that he or she has a condition listed on the Social Security Administration’s list of compassionate allowances conditions and has a signed qualifying disability diagnosis from a qualified physician; or self-certifies that he or she has an eligible disability and has a written qualifying disability diagnosis signed by a qualified physician.

Furthermore, to open an account based on self-certification, a person needs to have a signed doctor’s diagnosis of blindness or of a physical or mental impairment that results in “marked and severe functional limitations” lasting for a continuous period of 12 months or longer or which can be expected to result in death.

Takeaway

As of January 2018, there are more than 30 ABLE programs across the country, most of which are enrolling people regardless of their state of residence. With an ABLE account, disabled adults are empowered to have control over necessary funds to live a fuller life.

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Jarvis Law Office, LLC

Lancaster Office
904 N. Columbus Street
Lancaster, OH 43130
(740) 653-3450

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270 Bradenton Avenue, Suite 120
Dublin, OH 43017
(614) 495-4185

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St. Clairsville, OH 43950
(740) 699-2193

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Jarvis Law Office · 270 Bradenton Avenue · Suite 120 · Dublin, OH 43017 · USA