ABLE Account Decision Guide Series
ABLE Accounts and Working People with Disabilities
SSDI and ABLE Accounts for the Working Person
SSDI is not a means-tested benefit, but countable earnings that are more than the current year’s substantial gainful activity (SGA) amount can lead to a short-term suspension or long-term termination of benefits. Using the SSDI work incentives can often allow for a continuation of benefits while working and may create a positive cash flow that can be used to pay for education, training, work-related expenses and/or to contribute to an ABLE account. See Trial Work Period, https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/twp.html.
This part of the Decision Guide assumes the person is an SSDI beneficiary, keeping in mind that, in some cases, they may also receive an SSI payment or state supplement. If countable income, including the SSDI payment, is less than the SSI maximum payment available, a person usually qualifies for an SSI supplement, plus automatic Medicaid eligibility in most states.
→Yes, since the person will be eligible for both the SSDI payment and a paycheck during each of nine TWP months, this will create a monthly surplus in cash flow that can be used to meet expenses related to work and/or to allow the beneficiary to contribute to their ABLE account. The extra cash flow will generally be equal to monthly take home pay, less any extra expenses associated with working.
→No, cannot presently benefit from extra cash flow generated during the TWP (see Extended Period of Eligibility discussion below).
→Yes, this means the person will be eligible for a paycheck and an SSDI payment for any EPE month when countable earnings are below the SGA level (and for a three- month grace period the first time SGA level work occurs during the EPE). If the person continues to have some earnings each month, each of these SSDI payment months will create a monthly surplus in cash flow that can be used to meet expenses related to work and/or to allow the beneficiary to contribute to their ABLE account. The extra cash flow will generally be equal to monthly take home pay, less any extra expenses associated with working.
→No, cannot benefit from extra cash flow generated during the EPE.
→Yes, cannot benefit from extra cash flow generated for non-SGA months as SSDI payments will be terminated.
→No, since the beneficiary will continue to be eligible for an SSDI payment until this first month of SGA-level earnings in or after the EPE, this creates a potential cash flow (if working at or below the SGA level) that can be used for expenses related to work or the work goal and/or for contributions to an ABLE account. If the person had no SGA level earnings during the EPE, they will be entitled to SSDI payments during a three-month grace period the first time SGA level earnings occur after the EPE, with SSDI payments then terminated. Note: When SSDI is terminated because of SGA level earnings, after the EPE, the beneficiary can later have SSDI benefits reinstated if requested within 60 months if they continue to have the same or a related disability that prevents them from earning above the SGA level. See Expedited Reinstatement https://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/wi/exr.htm.
Note: Our ABLE Decision Guide Series is designed as an aid to decision making as it relates to establishing and using an ABLE account. This document does not cover every possible issue related to the topic and is not a substitute to more in-depth analysis that may be required in some cases.