In February of 2013, Congress introduced the ABLE act. ABLE stands for The Achieve a Better Life Experience Act. The Act had more than 400 co-sponsors in the House and the Senate, and disability advocates spoke out in favor of it. Unfortunately, the Congressional session ended last year before the bill could be considered.
Disability advocates are now urging Congress to act this year and move forward with the legislation. According to CNN, more than 230,000 people have signed a petition urging Congress to take action. The bill was also discussed at an annual event at Capitol Hill hosted by the National Down Syndrome Society. If passed, the bill would make it possible for people receiving disability benefits to save money and attain more financial security without putting their disability benefits at risk.
The ABLE Act Could Change Social Security Disability Rules
There are myriad rules and requirements associated with applying for Social Security Disability benefits that a Boston disability rights lawyer can help you to understand. For individuals applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on the basis of a disabling condition, one of the application rules addresses the amount of money, resources and assets that you have available and still get disability income.
The SSI rules stipulate that an applicant has to earn less than $700 per month and must have less than $2,000 in assets in order to qualify for benefits. The $2,000 limit on savings makes it impossible for disabled Americans to save for needs they may have, such as education, health care and housing.
The ABLE act would relax these rules and make it possible for people to improve their life conditions by saving money and thus getting an education if they wish to do so. By allowing disabled individuals to continue receiving benefits while putting aside money to pay for training, it might be possible to ultimately help some people to find jobs they can do with their conditions and stop depending upon the benefits.
If the ABLE Act passed, income exceeding the $700 per month threshold would be automatically deposited into a special tax-advantaged savings account. Interest that is earned on the accounts would be tax exempt and putting the money into the savings account would not cause benefits to end.
Allowing people to put aside money would not only make it possible for people to save for education, but it would also allow for the disabled receiving SSI benefits to change jobs or to try to find more meaningful work without putting their livelihood at risk. While SSI already has an expedited reinstatement period for people who begin working with their conditions and who turn out to be unable to continue to work, the SSI rules do not provide the same work incentives as a related program, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). If the ABLE act were to pass and the rules changed, it could open up many more opportunities for a productive future
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More Blog Entries:
SSI Can Help You Get Insurance Required by the Affordable Care Act, Jan. 2, 2014, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyer Blog