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Federal law protects disability benefits while encouraging saving

A recent story profiled one disabled North Carolina man’s struggle to further his skill set without jeopardizing his disability benefits. Thanks to a new law called the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE Act, that goal may be a bit closer in reach. 

Under the new law, Americans with disabilities will be able to save up to $100,000 in a special tax-advantaged account. That’s an important benefit for disabled Americans who receive benefits from programs like Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid, both of which impose an income ceiling and previously capped savings at $2,000. Now, disabled SSI or Medicaid beneficiaries can save for qualified expenses without fear of losing their eligibility for benefits. However, the monthly income restrictions remain in effect. 

The man profiled in the story has a disability called spinal muscular atrophy, which is a type of degenerative motor-neuron disease. He has been confined to a wheelchair his whole life. The man has benefitted from Medicaid payments to cover some of his health care costs. However, he also dreams of becoming a financial planner. Thanks to the ABLE Act, he has started to save for that education.

An attorney that focuses on disability benefits, including Social Security disability insurance, knows that the Social Security Administration encourages its disability recipients to explore work options. However, some disabled Americans may have feared that exploring such work incentives would endanger their benefits. Thanks to the new law, more options will now be available. Check out our firm’s website page on Social Security disability benefits to learn more about various programs that may be available to families with disabled children or individuals who are no longer able to work due to a disabling impairment or condition.

Source: News Observer, “Bipartisan passage of ABLE Act rights a wrong for Americans with disabilities,” Dec. 18, 2014

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