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

FRAUD ADVISORY: Beware of Phone Calls with Social Security Caller ID

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Sat, Nov 03, 2018 @ 08:00 AM

 

social_security_logoThe Acting Inspector General of Social Security, Gale Stallworth Stone, is warning citizens about an ongoing caller-ID “spoofing” scheme misusing the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) national customer service phone number.  SSA has received numerous reports of questionable phone calls displaying SSA’s 1-800 number on a caller-ID screen. 

 

The reports indicate the calls display 1-800-772-1213, SSA’s national customer service number, as the incoming number on caller ID.  People who have accepted the calls said the caller identifies as an SSA employee.  In some cases, the caller states that SSA does not have all of the person’s personal information, such as their Social Security number (SSN), on file.  Other callers claim SSA needs additional information so the agency can increase the person’s benefit payment, or that SSA will terminate the person’s benefits if they do not confirm their information.

 

SSA employees do contact citizens by phone for customer-service purposes, and in some situations, an SSA employee may request the citizen confirm personal information over the phone.  However, SSA employees will never threaten you for information or promise a Social Security benefit or approval or increase in exchange for information.”  See the full advisory at the OIG website.

Tags: cybersecurity, Social security income

Working with SSI: Our Speaker Series Kick-off on October 10

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Mon, Sep 17, 2018 @ 01:57 PM

 The Special Needs Financial Planning Team  Cynthia Haddad, CFP | John  Nadworny, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP  We are committed to offering educational workshops to organizations and parent  groups.  Please call Alex or click here to attend a workshop or discuss a presentation  to your group.


Pampered chef_croppedPlease join us as we welcome Kathleen Kelly of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission presenting on the topic of public benefits for working individuals with disabilities.  Discussion will include:

  • SSI eligibility & redetermination at age 18.
  • Students who work while attending school.
  • Social Security benefits for students in transition to adult life.

See the flyer below for more details. 

RSVP to Alex via email  or call 781-756-1804.

 

SSI Benefits Program Flyer (3)

 

Tags: Social security income

ABLE Account Contributions and Social Security Income (SSI)

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Sat, Aug 18, 2018 @ 08:00 AM

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

We are committed to presenting complimentary educational workshops to  organizations and parent groups. We are currently booking presentations for Fall 2018/Spring 2019 season. Please click here to email Alex Nadworny or call 781-756-1804 . 

ABLEThe analysis and case study below are excerpted from a Case Summary series offered by the National Disability Institute's ABLE National Resource Center(ABLE NRC).  John Nadworny met Chris Rodriguez of the National Disability Institute at a meeting prior to the ABLE's passage and has worked with Chris and the ABLE NRC on a number of presentations and webinars educating the public about ABLE. We share below information from the case studies presented by ABLE NRC. The case serves to illustrate the impact of the ABLE Account on Social Security and Social Security Income (SSI) disability benefits. 

The ABLE Account offers an individual with a disability, which began before age 26, an opportunity to save funds in a dedicated account to meet " qualified disability expenses" that will allow them to improve health, independence and quality of life.  To view the benefits, limitations and rules related to the ABLE Account, see ABLE Accounts:10 Things You Need to Know

SSI is based on financial need and therefore impacted by any income received by the SSI beneficiary.  Note: SSDI is not a means-tested benefit and is not impacted by the ABLE account. In 2018, the maximum SSI federal benefit is $750/month with states supplementing this amount at their option. Unless income exclusions apply, any income received by the SSI recipient will effect the SSI monthly payment amount. The maximum countable resources a beneficiary is allowed is $2000. If resources go above $2000, the right to an SSI payment may be suspended.  If resources remain above $2000 for 12 months, the SSI is terminated.  

ABLE Account & SSI

A summary of SSI policies regarding ABLE: 

(Source: POMS SI 001130.740, https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0501130740.  )

 Contributions of the designated beneficiary to the ABLE account, from his or her monthly income (i.e., income other than SSI), will still count as income for SSI (subject to any income exclusions) and may result in a reduction to the SSI payment. Contributions from all others are excluded and not counted as income of the beneficiary.

• Earnings from the ABLE account are excluded and not counted as income or against SSI resource limits.

• Up to $100,000 of the account balance is excluded by SSI and not counted toward the $2,000 SSI resource limit.

• When the value of an ABLE account exceeds $100,000 and the amount above $100,000, combined with other resources, results in countable resources above $2,000, SSI payments are indefinitely suspended.

 Unlike the general SSI rules related to excess resources, SSI eligibility is not terminated after 12 months of excess resources related to the ABLE account. SSI payments will be restored once the overall countable resources are reduced to $2,000 or less. Under SSI’s ABLE policy, two years or several years could elapse and the beneficiary can return to SSI payment status when countable resources are again below $2,000.

 • When the SSI payment is suspended due to excess ABLE account resources, Medicaid eligibility will continue.(Note of caution to readers that while the cited policy does allow Medicaid to continue despite an ABLE account balance of more than $100,000, since Medicaid eligibility will be tied to SSI status in 41 states, we believe countable resources (other than the ABLE account) must still be below the $2,000 SSI resource limit in those states. In the remaining nine section 209(b) states, that opted to determine Medicaid eligibility separately, the ABLE account should still be an exempt resource but the person will have to meet any state-specific resource test to keep Medicaid. POMS SI 01715.010.)

 A Case Study of SSI being Impacted by an ABLE account

Source: ABLE National Resource Center

ABLE-1

Mario has $101,500 in his ABLE account and $1,500 in his checking account. Since his countable resources are now $3,000 ($1,500 from ABLE account + $1,500 from checking account), his ABLE account has caused him to exceed the resource limit and his SSI payments are indefinitely suspended.

Mario continues putting money in his ABLE account for 24 more months and his indefinite suspension continues. Then, with the account balance standing at $107,000, he takes a $21,000 distribution to purchase a new car (a Qualified Disability Expense), dropping his account balance to $86,000 at a time when his checking account balance stands at $850. Since the ABLE account balance is below $100,000 it is once again exempt and his only countable resource is the $850 in his checking account. Mario’s SSI payments will be restored without the need for a new application. Mario had Medicaid eligibility continue when his SSI payments were suspended for 24 months based on excess resources caused by the ABLE account.

To read a more detailed case study and analysis, see ABLE National Resource Center. 

 The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide
specific advice or recommendations for any individual, nor intended to be a substitute for specific
individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified
tax or legal advisor.

Prior to investing in an ABLE account investors should consider whether the investor's or designated beneficiary's home state offers amy state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such states's ABLE program.  Withdrawals used for qualified disability expenses are federally tax free.  Tax treatment at the state level may vary.  Please consult with your tax advisor before investing. 

 

Tags: disability supports, government supports, ABLE Account, Social security income

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