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Proposed bill gives SSI recipients more saving flexibility

We all want to make sure that our children have the resources they need to be happy and healthy in life. This can be an especially difficult prospect when your child has special needs or lives with a disability. Long-term financial security is often the most pressing concern in these situations.

There are government programs that can help provide financial support, including Supplemental Security Income. Unfortunately, eligibility requirements for SSI are strict and sometimes discourage families from giving additional financial support to their disabled child. But this could change if federal lawmakers pass the ABLE Act, which is an acronym for Achieving a Better Life Experience.

In many cases, SSI applicants are ineligible for benefits if they have more than $2000 in assets. Parents of children with Down Syndrome or similar disabilities may actually be discouraged from putting any assets in their children’s name because it could jeopardize SSI eligibility.

But if the ABLE Act were passed, it would allow for the creation of tax-sheltered savings accounts set up by or on behalf of individuals with disabilities. The savings accounts could be used to help pay for long-term expenses not covered by either SSI or Medicaid. These expenses could include transportation, job coaching, education and housing.

Hopefully legislation like the ABLE Act will give individuals and families a better way to cope with the financial challenges associated with disability. But such measures will not be able to replace the important government aid provided by SSI and other programs. If you want to know more about SSI for yourself or a loved one, please contact an experienced Social Security disability attorney.

Source: The Washington Post, "How the proposed ABLE Act will help parents of children with disabilities," Mari-Jane Williams, March 6, 2014

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