The March/April issue of our AchievABLE™ Newsletter contains stories on the following:
- Your Support Needed by June 21st for the ABLE Age Adjustment Act
- National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) and ABLE NRC Collaboration
- Other ABLE Collaborations
- Get Ready for #ABLEtoSave Month in August
- AchievABLE™ Top 3 Questions
- ABLE Resources
- ABLE Plan Updates
Your Support Needed by June 21st for the ABLE Age Adjustment Act
The Senate Finance Committee has an opportunity to move the ABLE Age Adjustment Act through committee by the end of June, increasing the age of ABLE eligibility from prior to age 26 to prior to age 46. The goal is to include ABLE Age Adjustment in the base bill for the SECURE 2.0 (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) Act.
“By passing the ABLE Age Adjustment Act, as many as six million new people will become eligible for these life changing savings accounts,” said Tom Foley, Executive Director of National Disability Institute and ABLE account owner. “This is a market solution that will strengthen ABLE from a fiscal perspective, drive innovation and allow older adults who became disabled through accidents, chronic illness or military service to build a better economic future for themselves and their families!”
Members of the public can contact their Senator’s offices to convey support for the ABLE Age Adjustment Act. This bill has broad bipartisan support, including six Republicans: Senators Burr, Moran, Boozman, Murkowski, Marshall and Toomey.
Constituent support is critical to making sure ABLE Age Adjustment is included in the upcoming SECURE 2.0 mark-up. The key time for these contacts is between now and Tuesday, June 21. Act now!
National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) and ABLE NRC Collaboration
As a crucial component of ABLE National Resource Center’s education and outreach work, we engage a wide range of like-minded and diverse organizations to work together to promote greater levels of financial independence for people with disabilities.
Recently, we worked with the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), the nation’s largest provider of legal advocacy services for people with disabilities. NDRN’s Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP) are located in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Territories and Native Nations. Services in several states also include benefits counseling services under Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) programs. Learn about their range of P&A programs or find your closest P&A/CAP agency.
On May 12, 2022, the ABLE National Resource Center provided ABLE training for NDRN, the P&As and CAP programs. The session spotlighted ABLE NRC’s website and resources designed to inform individuals, service providers and employers about ABLE accounts. The ABLE related-information shared included federal guidance, decision guides, plan comparison tools and service provider and BIPOC outreach toolkits. The session included dialogue about ways NDRN and its member programs can inform people about ABLE account eligibility and how owning an ABLE account promotes financial wellness and quality of life for people with disabilities.
The Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System can provide information, resources and support for people when it comes to questions or issues they have related to ABLE accounts. As part of their responsibility to the Social Security Administration (SSA), they review individual and organizational representative payee and financial records for compliance to SSA policy. They interview beneficiaries to ensure that their needs are being met and that their benefits are being handled and saved appropriately. In addition, NDRN member organizations provides legal advocacy services for people with disabilities that address a full range of rights for people with disabilities including self-determination, employment, voter’s rights and more.
Other ABLE Collaborations
ABLE Supporters Network
The ABLE National Resource Center holds an ABLE Supporter’s Network virtual meeting on a bi-monthly basis with 25 national disability partners and ABLE plan administrators. These information sessions focus on discussing upcoming ABLE legislation and sharing promising practices and new resources that partners can utilize to take action to help those they serve benefit from ABLE accounts. The March 2022 meeting covered two topics of interest: the first part of the meeting featured representatives from special needs and pooled trusts who discussed how one or both of these protected savings vehicles can work with an ABLE account; and the second half of the meeting included updated information from SSA on ABLE accounts and representative payees. Check out the March/April 2022 AchievABLE™ Newsletter – ABLE National Resource Center if you missed it and want to learn more about SSA representative payees!
Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands
In April, ABLE NRC was interviewed by the Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands. A recording of “ABLE Basics” is posted on Ability Radio, which was shared with a regional audience of 30,000 people with disabilities and their family members. Please inform your friends and relatives who live in the Virgin Islands that ABLE accounts are available to people who have had a disability that began before age 26. To open an ABLE account, a person needs a Social Security number or a Taxpayer Identification Number. Any ABLE plan may be selected that allows out of state participation. The ABLE plan comparison tools are helpful to those looking to open an ABLE account.
Get Ready for #ABLEtoSave Month in August
August is #ABLEtoSave Month! This month-long campaign will provide people with disabilities and their families information about the significance of ABLE accounts and how these accounts can be used to address daily needs, help achieve long-term goals and dreams and increase their financial well-being.
Join us throughout the month of August as the ABLE National Resource Center hosts events and shares ABLE tools including: panels featuring ABLE account owners and family members, as well as ABLE program administrators and subject matter experts, ABLE Decision Guides, informational videos and more!
Themes for this year’s #ABLEtoSave Month will be:
- Week 1: Welcome to #ABLEtoSave Month
- Week 2: Become an ABLE Account Owner and Achieve A Better Life Experience
- Week 3: Help Your Family Member Become an ABLE Account Owner
- Week 4: What You Need to Know About Opening and Using Your ABLE Account
- Week 5: What You Need to Know to Achieve a Better Life Experience with Your ABLE Account
Stay tuned for more information about #ABLEtoSave Month and ways to get involved!
AchievABLE™ Top 3 Questions
1. I have had a mental health condition that began before age 26, but I was not approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) until after age 26. Am I ABLE-eligible? How can I prove that I am ABLE-eligible?
You may be ABLE-eligible. Please ask either your doctor or psychiatrist if they will sign a disability certification. Any information that you may have that supports the fact that your mental health condition began before age 26 will help your doctor make their decision to sign. When signed, keep the disability certification on file should the ABLE plan or the IRS request a copy.
2. Can you identify qualified disability expenses which may be related to mental health?
There are a variety of qualified disability expenses (QDE) which are related to mental health. Co-pays for individual or group therapy, counseling services, prescription medication, medical supervision, recreational therapies and complementary therapies. Mental health services may be provided in person, virtual or via app on a smartphone or laptop. Examples may include yoga or meditation. An ABLE account owner can pay for these services directly from their ABLE account as qualified disability expenses. Be sure to keep your receipts for the calendar year, for at least three tax filing seasons, should the IRS conduct an audit.
Services and supports may be provided by physicians such as psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical counselors, social workers and nurses. If you have insurance, check with your insurance provider to learn what services or supports are covered before you use the money in your ABLE account. The Decision Guide, Determining Whether Something Is a Qualified Disability Expense (QDE), is a helpful resource.
3. I receive SSI and I am age 18 and I am thinking about opening an ABLE account. I just graduated from high school and I am starting an apprenticeship program that will pay me. Am I eligible to use the Student Earned Income Disregard Exclusion (SEIE) work support?
Please contact your local Work Incentive Planning Associate (WIPA) to ask your question and learn how to report your earnings to SSA monthly while in the apprenticeship program. It is likely that SSA will approve the apprenticeship program and your use of the SSI Student Earned Income Exclusion work support if the apprenticeship is at least 12 hours or is 15 hours per week and if there is shop practice, too.
The SEIE work support would allow you to earn up to $2,040 per month, or a total of $8,230 this year, that would not be counted as earned income, so you could receive your full SSI payment each month. You will need to use care to not go over the $2,000 resource limit for your SSI. You could deposit your earnings into your ABLE account where up to $100,000 will not be counted towards the SSI resource limit. You can find your local WIPA or benefits advisor by visiting SSA’s Ticket to Work website.
The ABLE National Resource Center’s Webinar Archives List and ABLE to Save podcast episodes are available to access 24/7. The content covered will help financially empower you with information you need to open, understand and use an ABLE account.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Tool
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a tool which contains a checklist of things you may want to consider in Setting Up an ABLE Account. This tool is included in the CFPB’s Your Money, Your Goals: Focus on People with Disabilities companion guide.
Important ABLE PLAN Updates
Many ABLE plans have submitted updated information for 2022 that is posted in the ABLE NRC Comparison tools. See what updates and options are available for you:
Watch this short video to learn more about Using the ABLE NRC Comparison Tools. Remember, no matter where you reside, you can open an ABLE account in any ABLE plan that accepts out-of-state residents into their program. Find the right fit by using our tools!
Are you a service provider? Do you need flyers to inform people with disabilities about ABLE accounts? These two ABLE NRC flyers may be helpful:
ABLE Plan Updates
Illinois. Effective May 13, 2022, the State of Illinois amended their School Code to require a school district to provide information about the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts to the parent or guardian of a student with a disability during the annual individualized education program (IEP) review. Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, the school districts will share this information in the same manner as other documents and information related to the IEP are shared. Read the full text of Public Act 102-0841.
Colorado. On May 31, 2022, Colorado ABLE announced that the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Savings Accounts bill was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis, creating a more inclusive and equitable path to financial security for Coloradoans who have a disability. The new law, which goes into effect January 1, 2023, implements significant improvements in three key areas:
- Security of savings: Under this new law, when an ABLE account owner dies, the state may no longer file Medicaid payback claims to recapture funds used to reimburse the state for expenses paid since opening the account.
- Tax benefits for Coloradoans: The new law provides a dollar-for-dollar state tax deduction for contributions made into a Colorado ABLE account.
- Access and ease of use: a person other than the individual with a disability can now open and administer an ABLE account on behalf of a person with a disability.
For detailed information about the program, please visit www.coloradoable.org.