Top Three Questions: November 2018

November 6, 2018

Author: Marlene Ulisky

How Do I Decide Which State ABLE Program Is Right for Me?

The ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) has tools to help you easily compare characteristics of each state ABLE program nationwide to find the right program for you! Follow the instructions below to download or save the results for your review.

  1. Start on the “Homepage” of the ANRC website. On the menu bar, hover your mouse over “Choose a State” and then click on “Compare States.
  2. You will arrive at the “Shop the States to Choose the Best ABLE Program for You” page. Select your state from the drop down menu and check both of the characteristics shown.
  3. State programs that match your results will be shown on your screen.
  4. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to either download or save the information shown on your screen. You can also download or save a csv file containing all state data.

With so many ABLE programs to choose from, it is important to understand how to determine which program is best for you. The Choosing the Right ABLE Program fact sheet will help you as your review the information and have narrowed your choices down to three or less. Once you do that, you can use the Comparison Tool to compare program characteristics and find the right fit.

Can Supplemental Security Income Be Deposited into an ABLE Account?

Yes! A variety of questions have come into the ANRC involving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and whether they may be deposited into an ABLE account. Some individuals have asked how a beneficiary who receives a means-tested benefit meant to provide for day-to-day needs for food, shelter and basic living expenses would have income to save. Many SSI recipients also receive other means-tested benefits and supports, such as housing assistance, energy assistance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits or food stamps.

After a SSI recipient’s needs are met, when there are remaining funds, they may be used to contribute to an ABLE account. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides policy guidance to their internal staff in their “Program Operations Manual System” (POMS). This policy states that “Title XVI benefits must be used for the immediate or reasonably foreseeable needs of the beneficiary. Any remaining benefits must be conserved or invested for the beneficiary.” Other SSI-related POMS references address a variety of other savings tools or options which may or may not count as a resource.

An ABLE account is a savings account which allows a SSI recipient to save over the $2,000 resource limit. The first $100,000 in the account is disregarded. If the account exceeds $100,000, the SSI cash benefit would be placed in a state of suspension until such time that the account balance falls back below $100,000. This, however, has no effect on Medicaid or any other federally-funded means-tested benefits.

Note: The Federal Benefit Rate for an individual in 2018 is $750 or $1,125 for a couple when both members of the couple are disabled. This increases to $771 and $1,157 per month in 2019. Some states, but not all, pay a small state supplemental payment.

What Happens to ABLE Account Funds when the ABLE Account Owner Dies?

If the beneficiary did not receive Medicaid-funded services, any assets remaining in the account pass to the estate of the account owner and are distributed under the provisions in the individual’s written will.

When an ABLE account holder dies and did receive Medicaid-funded services, at any time beginning when the account was opened, the state in which the beneficiary lived may file a claim to all or to a portion of the funds in the account. The amount of Medicaid payback excludes outstanding qualified disability expenses, such as funeral or other expenses, and amounts paid by the beneficiary as premiums to a Medicaid buy-in program. Any assets remaining after repayments to Medicaid pass to the estate of the account owner. Some states have passed state laws that would prohibit this Medicaid payback provision. When enrolling, we encourage you to ask if your state has passed such laws or not.

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