5 Little Known Facts: The ABLE Account and Social Security

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Wed, Jun 05, 2019 @ 06:00 AM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP,  CTFA

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  1. May Social Security benefits be deposited into an ABLE account? 

    • adult-blazer-cellphone-2_1081230Social Security Income (SSI) is a means-tested program. SSI is intended to pay for living expenses for individuals with disabilities who would otherwise have a difficult time paying for food & shelter. It makes sense to segregate the SSI in an account used to pay for living expenses and not deposit into the ABLE account. One exception might be If the recipient is getting close to having $2000 in resources, they may choose to deposit some funds into their ABLE account.
    • Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) is an entitlement (not means-tested) program based upon the beneficiary’s earnings record. You may deposit SSDI into an ABLE account.
       
  2. What happens when a child has a disability under age 18, receives SSI and opens an ABLE account, and then becomes gainfully employed after age 18?

  • The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. The Social Security Administration has a two-part definition and you must meet both parts to get benefits.

    1. If a person of any age is able to earn Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), which is currently $1,220 gross per month, they will not be eligible to receive benefits from Social Security.
    2. The person must have a physical or mental condition expected to last 12 months or result in death that prevents them from earning SGA.

  • While this person may lose their SSI benefit, they may continue to contribute to their ABLE account- in fact, the ABLE to Work Act allows them to potentially contribute more! They may contribute the $15,000 annual limit PLUS their adjusted gross income or $12,140- the current federal poverty level, whichever is less, meaning they may contribute up to $27,140 in 2019. There is one caveat:  they are not allowed to participate in ABLE to Work and also participate in a workplace retirement or 401K plan.

  1. What is the status of child support and the ABLE account?

    • Child support is considered unearned income. Unearned income including pension, 401K, worker’s compensation payments, unemployment compensation, veteran’s benefits, rental income and child support payments can be deposited into an ABLE account. These income sources also follow the usual income counting rules for the public benefits program and cannot qualify you for additional benefits.
  1. Can you use the ABLE account to pay for housing expenses and avoid in-kind supports?
    • You can draw money from an ABLE account for housing expenses without it being considered an illegal transfer of funds. This would allow a parent or other family member to deposit money into the ABLE account to help pay living expenses.  If the money is given to the account holder directly, it is considered an In-Kind Support and may impact SSI.

  2. What is the status of Medicaid payback in Massachusetts and other states?

  • The Medicaid payback provision varies from state to state.
  • In Massachusetts, the state “may or have the potential” to claw back a portion of the proceeds an individual received from Medicaid from their ABLE account if they have one(minus any premiums they paid). In terms of ABLE, this claw back exists only during the period the ABLE account was in existence before their death. If they received Medicaid prior to the ABLE account-that portion is not included in the claw back- only the time period during the ABLE account applies. Before the claw back takes place, when an ABLE account owner passes away, the money in the ABLE account goes to the person’s estate. Prior to the claw back, the estate can pay funeral/burial expenses and any outstanding disability related expenses with the ABLE account however.  A person who receives Medicaid over a lifetime is likely to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars- with a smaller claw back potential.  Any potential claw back can be weighed with the benefits of ABLE overall.
  • Medicaid payback may only be avoided with a third-party special needs trust. Upon the beneficiary’s death, the proceeds will go to the secondary beneficiaries.

Read ABLE Basics, Strategies & Case Studies

Sources:

MEFA, Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, Attainable Account

Fidelity Investments, Attainable Account

Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/ssi/

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, https://aspe.hhs.gov/2019-poverty-guidelines

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: disability supports, Government Benefits, ABLE Account, Social security income

Social Security Announces 0.3 Percent Benefit Increase for 2017

Posted by Patty Manko on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 @ 06:13 PM

 

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team 

Cynthia Haddad, CFP® | John Nadworny, CFP® | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP®

 

social_security_logo.pngMonthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 65 million Americans will increase 0.3 percent in 2017, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 60 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2017. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2016. The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $127,200 from $118,500. Of the estimated 173 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2017, about 12 million will pay more because of the increase in the taxable maximum.

Information about Medicare changes for 2017, when announced, will be available at www.Medicare.gov. For some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

NOTE TO CORRESPONDENTS: Attached is a fact sheet showing the effect of the various automatic adjustments.

Source: Social Security Administration

Tags: Government Benefits

2015 MassHealth Renewals for People with Disabilities

Posted by Patty Manko on Wed, Jul 08, 2015 @ 02:16 PM

lSeDoCoB

 

 

News from HCFA (Health Care for All):

In order to follow federal rules, MassHealth will be contacting certain MassHealth members with disabilities for renewals to make sure they still qualify for MassHealth. You may need to submit a new application to keep your health care coverage.MA_health

 

Tags: Government Benefits

Important Questions to Ask When Applying for Government Benefits

Posted by Patty Manko on Wed, Jan 21, 2015 @ 11:16 AM

disability_images-resized-600

The most effective means to providing an individual the opportunity to achieve a full life is to maximize both public and private resources.

Service providers continue to struggle with limited budget constraints and high staff turnover.  Families tired of receiving minimal supports and services often combine their resources to supplement those needed.  Although every individual has their own personality and needs, many dreams have been realized by creatively pooling resources between many families. 

The best way to identify and obtain services is to go directly to the gateway to those services while gathering information from other families or advocacy agencies involved in that specific service area.

Here are a few pointers when trying to advocate for services for your family member.  

  1. When you apply for the service, the gatekeeper staff - the people who control access to the benefits you seek- should give you an overview of the entire process. If he or she does not, be sure to ask. You still may not get all of your questions answered.
  2. The process may look intimidating. This is why it is so important to connect with a parent or advocacy group for support. Try to get objective input, even if you have to pay for the information. Even if the group you contact does not provide specific services, the members and/or staff can advise you of the options in your region.
  3. Other parents can share what they have done to obtain services. Learning about advocacy activities can ultimately advance service availability. 
We can help you maneuver the maze of government benefits. Parents and Trustees need to protect themselves from potentially disqualifying a beneficiary from their much needed government benefits.  Download our checklist of questions to ask when applying for support services below.
We will be hosting an Assessments and Evaluations Panel  on February 11.  Contact Alex  (781-756-1804) for more information.
Download our  Questions to Ask when Applying for Government Benefits

Tags: Government Benefits

A Giant Step Forward for the Autism Community in Massachusetts

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 @ 12:18 PM


statehouse resized 600Yesterday, the Massachusetts General Court took a huge step forward in the realm of disability rights. The Senate approved S2245, Relative to assisting individuals with autism and other intellectual or developmental disabilities. To read the full text of the bill, click here
.

The bill still needs to be reconciled with the House version to become law.

The highlights of this bill:

  • makes the Special Commission Relative to Autism a permanent oversight body
  • creates special savings and expense accounts to receive tax benefits for expenditures that benefit an individual with a disability (of any kind)
  • expands the mission of DDS to include adults with developmental disabilities
  • encourages cooperation between DDS and DMH to provide mental health services to those with developmental disabilities
  • creates an endorsement in autism to certify teachers who are qualified to assist autistic students
  • extends insurance coverage for autism services to MassHealth (Medicaid)
  • requires the Autism Commission to report on employment and housing opportunities for autistic people in the Commonwealth

Congratulations to all who have taken part in this accomplishment. We anticipate that this bill will have a positive impact on individuals with autism, including those with Asperger Syndrome.

Sources:Asperger's Association of New England, Arc of Massachusetts

Tags: autism, news and events, Government Benefits

Important Questions to Ask When Applying for Government Benefits

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 @ 04:32 PM

describe the image

The most effective means to providing an individual the opportunity to achieve a full life is to maximize both public and private resources.


Service providers continue to struggle with limited budget constraints and high staff turnover.  Families tired of receiving minimal supports and services often combine their resources to supplement those needed.  Although every individual has their own personality and needs, many dreams have been realized by creatively pooling resources between many families. 


The best way to identify and obtain services is to go directly to the gateway to those services while gathering information from other families or advocacy agencies involved in that specific service area.

Here are a few pointers when trying to advocate for services for your family member.  

1. When you apply for the service, the gatekeeper staff - the people who control access to the benefits you seek- should give you an overview of the entire process. If he or she does not, be sure to ask. You still may not get all of your questions answered.

2. The process may look intimidating. This is why it is so important to connect with a parent or advocacy group for support. Try to get objective input, even if you have to pay for the information. Even if the group you contact does not provide specific services, the members and/or staff can advise you of the options in your region.

3. Other parents can share what they have done to obtain services. Learning about advocacy activities can ultimately advance service availability. 

We can help you maneuver the maze of government benefits. Parents and Trustees need to protect themselves from potentially disqualifying a beneficiary from their much needed government benefits.  Download our checklist of questions to ask when applying for support services below.

Download our  Questions to Ask when Applying for Government Benefits

Tags: Government Benefits

Planning for a Child with Special Needs in Divorce

Posted by Patty Manko on Mon, Sep 09, 2013 @ 04:04 PM

divorce and special needs child resized 600Finding a fair and equitable agreement when parties are divorcing is often a challenge. When parents of a child with special needs separate and divorce, the challenge is magnified. Based upon both our personal and professional experience, it is critical to bring parents into agreement on a plan that does not take sides, but focuses on representing the needs of their child.

This means planning for families with unique sets of circumstances. We can help. 

  • Based upon our understanding of the obstacles children with special needs may have in growing up, we can describe and define the needs of the child.
  • Based upon the child’s unique situation, we can quantify the amount of financial support necessary to meet these needs, for the short- and long-term.
  • We will connecting parents, when interested, with various agencies that provide support services.
  • We inform parents about available government programs.
Importantly, we not only define the need but can work with the parties to realistically plan and make it achievable.

 We welcome an opportunity to discuss how our services can help in cases of divorce  and provide the best plan for a child’s lifetime supports.  As a basic resource not customized for families of individuals with special needs, download the pre-divorce checklist below.

Download our Pre-Divorce Planning Checklist

Tags: Special Needs Financial Planning, supports for special needs, siblings, Divorce, Government Benefits, special needs Divorce

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