[tabi] Fw: BREAKING NEWS: Congress Passes ABLE Act!

  • From: "Dorothy Martin" <spikey52@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:43:37 -0500

From: National Disability Institute 
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2014 12:23 PM
To: spikey52@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
Subject: BREAKING NEWS: Congress Passes ABLE Act!

                              CONGRESS PASSES ABLE ACT: MAJOR VICTORY FOR 

                              For first time in nation's history, federal 
government recognizes added costs associated to living with a disability

                              (Washington, D.C. - Dec. 17, 2014) - Last night, 
the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience 
(ABLE) Act of 2014 by a vote of 76 to 16. First introduced in 2006, and 
subsequent sessions of Congress, the ABLE Act will allow people with 
disabilities (with an age of onset up to 26 years old) and their families the 
opportunity to create a tax-exempt savings account that can be used for 
maintaining health, independence and quality of life.

                              "Today marks a new day in our country's 
understanding and support of people with disabilities and their families," 
Michael Morris, National Disability Institute (NDI) Executive Director, said. 
"A major victory for the disability community, ABLE, for the very first time in 
our country's policy on disability, recognizes that there are added costs to 
living with a disability." He continued. "For far too long, federally imposed 
asset limits to remain eligible for critical public benefits have served as a 
roadblock toward greater financial independence for the millions of individuals 
living with a disability." 

                              NDI has long championed the ABLE Act as a 
critical strategy to providing a pathway to a better economic future for all 
people with disabilities. As the nation's first nonprofit dedicated to 
improving the financial health and future of all people with disabilities, the 
organization has extensively documented and called attention to the daily 
reality and extra expenses associated with living with a disability, and the 
challenges of navigating the complex web of government rules to maintain public 
benefits eligibility.

                              In recognition of this unprecedented legislation, 
NDI has created a list of 10 items about ABLE accounts that individuals with 
disabilities and their families should know:

                              ABLE Accounts: 10 Things You Must Know

                                1.. What is an ABLE account? 
                                ABLE Accounts, which are tax-advantaged savings 
accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families, will be created 
as a result of the passage of the ABLE Act of 2014. Income earned by the 
accounts would not be taxed. Contributions to the account made by any person 
(the account beneficiary, family and friends) would not be tax deductible.

                                2.. Why the need for ABLE accounts? 
                                Millions of individuals with disabilities and 
their families depend on a wide variety of public benefits for income, health 
care and food and housing assistance. Eligibility for these public benefits 
(SSI, SNAP, Medicaid) require meeting a means or resource test that limits 
eligibility to individuals to report more than $2,000 in cash savings, 
retirement funds and other items of significant value. To remain eligible for 
these public benefits, an individual must remain poor. For the first time in 
public policy, the ABLE Act recognizes the extra and significant costs of 
living with a disability. These include costs, related to raising a child with 
significant disabilities or a working age adult with disabilities, for 
accessible housing and transportation, personal assistance services, assistive 
technology and health care not covered by insurance, Medicaid or Medicare.

                                For the first time, eligible individuals and 
families will be allowed to establish ABLE savings accounts that will not 
affect their eligibility for SSI, Medicaid and other public benefits. The 
legislation explains further that an ABLE account will, with private savings, 
"secure funding for disability-related expenses on behalf of designated 
beneficiaries with disabilities that will supplement, but not supplant, 
benefits provided through private insurance, Medicaid, SSI, the beneficiary's 
employment and other sources."

                                3.. Am I eligible for an ABLE account? 
                                Passage of legislation is a result of a series 
of compromises. The final version of the ABLE Act limits eligibility to 
individuals with significant disabilities with an age of onset of disability 
before turning 26 years of age. If you meet this 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 would still 
be eligible to open an ABLE account if you meet SSI criteria regarding 
significant functional limitations. The regulations to be written in 2015 by 
the Treasury Department will have to explain further the standard of proof and 
required medical documentation. You need not be under the age of 26 to be 
eligible for an ABLE account. You could be over the age of 26, but must have 
the documentation of disability that indicates age of onset before the age of 

                                4.. Are there limits to how much money can be 
put in an ABLE account? 
                                The total annual contributions by all 
participating individuals, including family and friends, is $14,000. The amount 
will be adjusted annually for inflation. Under current tax law, $14,000 is the 
maximum amount that individuals can make as a gift to someone else and not pay 
taxes (gift tax exclusion). The total limit over time that could be made to an 
ABLE account will be subject to the individual state and their limit for 
education-related 529 savings accounts. Many states have set this limit at more 
than $300,000 per plan. However, for individuals with disabilities who are 
recipients of SSI and Medicaid, the ABLE Act sets some further limitations. The 
first $100,000 in ABLE accounts would be exempted from the SSI $2,000 
individual resource limit. If and when an ABLE account exceeds $100,000, the 
beneficiary would be suspended from eligibility for SSI benefits and no longer 
receive that monthly income. However, the beneficiary would continue to be 
eligible for Medicaid. States would be able to recoup some expenses through 
Medicaid upon the death of the beneficiary.

                                5.. Which expenses are allowed by ABLE 
                                A "qualified disability expense" means any 
expense related to the designated beneficiary as a result of living a life with 
disabilities. These include education, housing, transportation, employment 
training and support, assistive technology, personal support services, health 
care expenses, financial management and administrative services and other 
expenses which will be further described in regulations to be developed in 2015 
by the Treasury Department.

                                6.. Where do I go to open an ABLE account? 
                                Each state is responsible for establishing and 
operating an ABLE program. If a state should choose not to establish its own 
program, the state may choose to contract with another state to still offer its 
eligible individuals with significant disabilities the opportunity to open an 
ABLE account.

                                After President Obama signs the ABLE Act, the 
Secretary of the Department of Treasury will begin to develop regulations that 
will guide the states in terms of a) the information required to be presented 
to open an ABLE account; b) the documentation needed to meet the requirements 
of ABLE account eligibility for a person with a disability; and c) the 
definition details of "qualified disability expenses" and the documentation 
that will be needed for tax reporting.

                                No accounts can be established until the 
regulations are finalized following a public comment period on proposed rules 
for program implementation. States will begin to accept applications to 
establish ABLE accounts before the end of 2015.

                                7.. Can I have more than one ABLE account? 
                                No. The ABLE Act limits the opportunity to one 
ABLE account per eligible individual. 

                                8.. Will states offer options to invest the 
savings contributed to an ABLE account? 
                                Like state 529 college savings plans, states 
are likely to offer qualified individuals and families multiple options to 
establish ABLE accounts with varied investment strategies. Each individual and 
family will need to project possible future needs and costs over time, and to 
assess their risk tolerance for possible future investment strategies to grow 
their savings. Account contributors or designated beneficiaries are limited, by 
the ABLE Act, to change the way their money is invested in the account up to 
two times per year.

                                9.. How many eligible individuals and families 
might benefit from establishing an ABLE account? 
                                There are 58 million individuals with 
disabilities in the United States. To meet the definition of significant 
disability required by the legislation to be eligible to establish an ABLE 
account, the conservative number would be approximately 10 percent of the 
larger group, or 5.8 million individuals and families. Further analysis is 
needed to understand more fully the size of this market and more about their 
needs for new savings and investment products.

                                10.. How is an ABLE account different than a 
special needs or pooled trust? 
                                An ABLE Account will provide more choice and 
control for the beneficiary and family. Cost of establishing an account will be 
considerably less than either a Special Needs Trust (SNT) or Pooled Income 
Trust. With an ABLE account, account owners will have the ability to control 
their funds and, if circumstances change, still have other options available to 
them. Determining which option is the most appropriate will depend upon 
individual circumstances. For many families, the ABLE account will be a 
significant and viable option in addition to, rather than instead of, a Trust 

                              About National Disability Institute

                              National Disability Institute (NDI) is a national 
nonprofit organization dedicated to building a better economic future for 
people with disabilities. The first national organization committed exclusively 
to championing economic empowerment, financial education, asset development and 
financial stability for all persons with disabilities, NDI affects change 
through public education, policy development, training, technical assistance 
and innovative initiatives. NDI and its Real Economic Impact (REI) Network have 
helped more than 2.3 million people with disabilities receive nearly $2.3 
billion in tax refunds and credits. To learn more, visit 
www.realeconomicimpact.org. Engage with NDI on Facebook: RealEconImpact or 
follow NDI on Twitter: @RealEconImpact.

                              # # #

                              Dominic Manecke
                              National Disability Institute
                              (202) 296-2040 / dmanecke@xxxxxxxxxxx

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