The ABLE Act May Revolutionize SSI for Disabled Individuals

In culmination of more than 8 years of advocacy, the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act) was passed by the House on December 3rd 2014, the Senate on December 16, 2014, and was signed into law by President Obama on December 19, 2014. The act is expected to provide families of disabled children receiving SSI benefits additional options and flexibility in their care.

Supporters of the Act have declared the passage of the Act as being a momentous occasion. Many have compare the ABLE Act’s passage to that of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. While the ADA provided disabled individuals with access to many of the places and facilities people often take for granted, the new law may provide comparable benefit towards the financial planning for disabled children.   The ability for families and disabled individuals to plan and save is likely to improve the quality of life and levels of achievement for those with a childhood or developmental disability.

Fayetteville AR disability lawyer Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law can guide your family through the disability application process and make you aware of laws or government programs that can permit you to provide more extensive resources for your child’s growth and development.

How Does SSI Support Kids with Childhood Disabilities?

Supplemental Security Income can provide monthly cash payments to individuals with low income and limited resources. If a child meets the Social Security Administration’s definition for disability and the child can satisfy the program requirements, he or she can receive cash payments. Aside from having a qualifying disability program requirements include:

  • Income – To qualify for SSI benefits, the child’s income may not exceed certain levels. In SSI childhood disability benefit claims, the income and resources of household members are also included meaning the money earned by household members counts against the child’s limits.
  • Work credits – There are no work credits required for SSI. Furthermore, even in applications for SSD where sufficient work credits are typically required, they are not necessary in childhood disability claims.

If the child can meet the non-medical program requirements and he or she has a qualifying disability, SSI benefit payments can be awarded. Payment amounts will vary from state to state because the state may choose to supplement the benefits provided by the federal government. Unfortunately, Arkansas does not provide any additional benefits beyond what is awarded by the federal government.

What Will the ABLE Act Permit Families to Do?

The ABLE Act will function similarly to the 529 college savings plans that many are already familiar with. In fact, the ABLE Act also amends Section 529 of the US Tax Code to create tax-free savings accounts for qualifying individuals and families. The ABLE Act permits families receiving SSI benefits payments to set up tax-free bank accounts. Each year up to $14,000 can be deposited in the account to pay for long term care needs such as education, transportation, housing and medical care.

Furthermore, under the ABLE Act the current prohibition against SSI recipients having no more than $2,000 in savings will no longer be the law. Rather,  under the ABLE Act, the individual will be permitted to save up to $100,000. Furthermore, these savings will no longer disqualify the individual from receiving benefits under the SSI program. Families and friends will also be able to make tax-exempt deposits into the ABLE savings account.

How Can I Qualify for the ABLE Act in Arkansas?

If you can prove that your disability onset date was before your 26th birthday and are already receiving benefits under Social Security Disability (SSD) or SSI, you will qualify for the benefits provided by the ABLE Act. If you are not currently receiving benefits through SSI or SSD and you have not yet reached the age of 26 , you may still qualify for a tax-free savings account if you can show that you have a qualifying disability. The criteria for a qualifying disability is the same as what is utilized for SSD or SSI benefits. That is, the disability must be one that is so severe that it is listed by the Social Security Administration or the disability is severe and medically or functionally equal to a listed condition.

An Arkansas Social Security Disability Attorney Can Help with Your Disability Application Process

Navigating the steps of the SSD or SSI application process can be daunting, Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law can handle each and every step of the process. Furthermore, we can provide valuable guidance regarding other benefits and programs that can provide additional resources. To discuss your disability concerns confidentially, contact a Fayetteville Social Security attorney at (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.