Help ensure clients remain eligible for benefits after settlement.
Plaintiffs shouldn’t have to sacrifice their means-tested benefits after settlement. Milestone works diligently to ensure families understand how to keep their benefits through the use of ABLE accounts.
What is an ABLE account?
The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, or ABLE Act, allows qualified individuals and/or their families to create a tax-advantaged ABLE savings account without impacting their eligibility for needs-based public benefits such as SSI and Medicaid. At the time of the ABLE Act’s passing, individuals with more than $2,000 in assets were not eligible to keep those benefits. This rule posed a problem for people who received a settlement, inheritance, or other lump sum of money. An ABLE account is one way to mitigate this issue so that a beneficiary can have income while keeping SSI and Medicaid eligibility.
Paying Expenses from an ABLE Account
An ABLE account pays for qualified disability expenses (QDEs). These are related to the special needs of the beneficiary. QDEs include, but are not limited to the following.
Basic living expenses
Employment training & support
Assistive technology & services
Personal support services
Health, prevention, & wellness
Financial management & administrative services
Expenses for ABLE account oversight & monitoring
Funeral & burial expenses
Who can have an ABLE account?
Individuals must be one of the following:
- Eligible for SSI based on disability or blindness beginning before age 26.
- Entitled to disability insurance benefits (DIB), childhood disability benefits (CDB), or disabled widow’s/widower’s benefits (DWB) based on disability before age 26.
- Certified as being blind or having an impairment that meets the government’s criteria and that the blindness or impairment occurred before age 26.
A beneficiary can open his or her own ABLE account, or a person with signature authority can establish and administer the account if the beneficiary is incapable. The person with signature authority must be a parent, legal guardian, or someone acting under power of attorney. An individual can only have one ABLE account, and the beneficiary is always considered the owner of the account—no matter who manages it.
Who can contribute to ABLE account savings?
Anyone can contribute to a person’s ABLE bank account. However, there are federally mandated annual contribution limits. In 2021, per the IRS:
- Total ABLE account annual contributions that can be received from all sources is $15,000.
View Total Annual Contributions Forms
- Additional contributions can be made by certain employed ABLE account beneficiaries up to his or her compensation for the tax year, or the poverty line amount for a one-person household, whichever is less. The contribution limit is determined using the poverty guideline applicable in the state where the beneficiary lives. However, the beneficiary is not eligible to make this additional contribution if his or her employer contributes to a workplace retirement plan.
It’s also important to note that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 allows the beneficiary of an ABLE account to claim the saver’s credit for contributions.
Using an ABLE Account
Where can my client open an ABLE account?
Plaintiff’s can establish an ABLE account in any state. It does not have to be the state they live in. When visiting a state’s plan website to enroll, we would be happy to give you and your client a few pointers before you take on the task yourself. Feel free to give us a call.
Can an ABLE account be used for food?
Food is considered a qualified disability expense (specifically a basic living expense), so an ABLE account can be used for the beneficiary’s food and groceries.
Can an SSI recipient place payments in an ABLE account?
Individuals are eligible to open and pay into an ABLE account if they have SSI because of a disability or blindness beginning before age 26.
What happens to an ABLE account at death?
When a beneficiary with an ABLE account passes away, funds remaining in the account finish paying off all outstanding QDEs and may then reimburse the state for Medicaid benefits the beneficiary received.
Establish an ABLE Account with Experts
Milestone is prepared to educate and assist you and your clients with all ABLE account needs.
As a national settlement planning firm, Milestone continues to lead the way in assisting attorneys, their firms, their clients, beneficiaries, and their families establishing ABLE accounts all across the country. If you are considering your settlement planning options for yourself, your family member, or your client, we welcome you to contact us to discuss this avenue in depth.
The Ability to Achieve a Better Life
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