One of the primary reasons applicants are often denied SSI benefits, or lose those benefits at some point after gaining them, is due to resource limits. Individuals (or their legal guardian, if a minor) are limited to $2,000 worth of countable resources, including savings for a home, vehicle, or future medical care. The limit is $3,000 for married persons or parents of a disabled minor child.
Clearly, these limits don’t allow much room for disabled individuals, or their families, to prepare for the future. Finally, in 2014, Congress recognized this limitation and passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, or the ABLE act. Under the ABLE act, those with disabilities are able to set aside funds for future needs, in a special account called an ABLE account. When you utilize an ABLE account correctly, funds within that account will not be counted toward the resource limit for determining eligibility for SSI benefits.
Who is eligible for an ABLE account? Currently, this type of account is offered to individuals whose disability began before age 26, and who are already receiving benefits from either the SSDI or SSI programs. Establishing an ABLE account will allow you to save money for future needs, designated as a “qualified disability expense”.
If you are not currently receiving SSI benefits, but your disability began before age 26 and you meet Social Security’s criteria for “significant functional limitation”, you might still be eligible to open an ABLE account. This process requires a bit more legwork, but once you’re approved for the account you will be able to save money without going over the resource limit (and therefore being denied benefits on the basis of that rule).
What counts as a “qualified disability expense”? You can use the money in your ABLE account to pay for expenses relating to your disability, such as education, housing accommodations, job training programs, transportation, support services related to your disability, and more.
There are more benefits to the ABLE account. For more information on how this type of account could help you, check out the ABLE National Resource Center.
You can also give us a call to learn more. If you’ve been denied Social Security Disability benefits, or lost your benefits due to the resource limit, we can help you learn how to qualify or re-qualify.