This is a wonderful and necessary change to existing laws.
So it looks like this post doesn’t work in mobile. Here’s the text of it for those who are having trouble:
NEW YORK — Justin Bainbridge is 27 and works two jobs, but he wasn’t allowed to start saving money for his future until a few months ago.
Bainbridge has Down syndrome, and like other people with disabilities who receive government benefits, he can’t have more than $2,000 in savings. If he does, he would start to lose those much-needed benefits. But a new type of savings vehicle is giving Bainbridge, and others, a chance to save more cash.
Known as ABLE accounts, they let people with disabilities and their families save up to $14,000 a year without losing benefits. The accounts, which were made possible by a law signed two years ago, are operated by individual states and are similar to 529 college savings plans. So far, 16 states offer the plans and about 10 more are expected to do so this year. Most of the states let non-residents sign up. Each state has different rules or maintenance fees, with some charging as much as $15 every three months.
Disability advocates say the accounts are badly needed, since people with disabilities were forced to spend extra money to avoid losing benefits. With ABLE accounts, money saved can be used to buy anything that helps the life of the person with a disability, such as rent payments, school tuition or groceries.
“I’m saving for a new couch,” says Bainbridge, who shares a two-bedroom apartment in Omaha, Nebraska, with a friend.
Since June, he has put away more than $1,800 in an Enable account, the ABLE program run by Nebraska. He makes about $5,200 a year from his part-time jobs, one folding towels at a gym and another collecting movie tickets at a theater. But he still needs his monthly Supplemental Security Income cash benefit to help pay his rent and live independently, says his mother, Kim Bainbridge, who also stashes away money for him in the ABLE account.
“I can finally save for him after 27 years,” she says.For years, disability advocates have tried unsuccessfully to increase the $2,000 savings limit, which hasn’t been changed in nearly three decades.“It kind of shackles you to a life of poverty,” says Christopher Rodriguez, a senior public policy adviser at the National Disability Institute in Washington.The idea for ABLE accounts came about a decade ago from parents of kids with disabilities who were frustrated that they could not easily save money for their children. One of those parents, Stephen Beck Jr., spent years advocating and lobbying for a law. Beck unexpectedly passed away in 2014, just a few weeks before President Barack Obama signed it into law. To honor Beck, the law was named The Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act.His widow, Catherine Beck, is using an ABLE account to put away money for their 17-year-old daughter Natalie, who has Down syndrome and wants to go to cosmetology school to work at a nail salon. The Becks were able to easily save money for their eldest daughter, who does not have a disability. But for Natalie, they had to create a special-needs trust that required hiring a pricey lawyer to set up.“Her savings has not grown like her sister’s has,” says Catherine Beck, who lives in Burke, Virginia.To qualify for an ABLE account, the account owner must have had a disability before their 26th birthday. Anyone can put money in it, such as family or friends. If the account goes above $100,000, the person with the disability will lose monthly government cash benefits until it drops below that level again. Medicaid health benefits are never affected, no matter how much money is saved. Money can be invested in index funds and earnings are not taxed.“For the first time a lot of individuals will be able to work, save money and get some growth out of it,” says Adam Beck, director of MassMutual Center For Special Needs at The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
When the person with a disability dies, Medicaid can claim any leftover money as payback for health care paid after the ABLE account was opened. Since each state has different rules and fees, the ABLE National Resource website has a tool that compares the programs.Matthew Shapiro, who lives in Richmond, Va., and works to promote the state’s ABLE program called ABLEnow, says finally being able to have some savings helped reduce his money worries. The 26-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, uses a power wheelchair to get around and unexpected repairs can be costly. He travels sometimes for his business, 6 Wheels Consulting, which helps educate companies and organizations on disability issues.“Being a person with a disability is expensive,” says Shapiro. “These accounts are so much needed.”
YES YES YES HALLELUJAH
*SOME people with disabilities.
This is cool for those people, and I’m so glad they’re being implemented. More every year!
But I’m still fucked!
Rules vary by state but you can be disqualified based on a number of criteria, one of which is your age at the time of onset of your disability.
For all that I’ve looked into, which is every ABLE program open to people nationwide, you have to have been 26 or younger. You have to be able to PROVE it started before then, meaning someone like me who has been symptomatic since childhood but was never diagnosed, is shut out.
Also, the money in these accounts can ONLY be used for approved expenses, usually related to the disability. So someone like me who has relatively few expenses directly related to my disability because you don’t need things like wheelchairs and access ramps for being bipolar, it won’t help, because it doesn’t necessarily allow you to buy things like food, clothing, pay for car repair, pay for house repairs, or any of the other daily or emergency expenses a disabled person might like to save for.
Some allow funds to be used for limited living expenses or education for the young. (Because fuck old people who want to go to school.)
I do not dispute that these accounts are helpful, but these are NOT a cure-all, or even a long-term solution, they are a stopgap measure, and what is truly necessary is a TOTAL overhaul of how we handle disability benefits nationwide.
I am concerned that articles like the above make it sound like this is helping most/all disabled people, when that could not be further from the truth. I’m afraid it will make nondisabled people think “Ah, it’s all taken care of then!” and ignore the monstrous issues still present. I’m afraid it will make lawmakers sit back and say “We’ve taken care of the people who REALLY need it, which is young people. Everyone else can get fucked.”
WE STILL NEED HELP.
PLEASE ADVOCATE FOR US. PLEASE ADVOCATE FOR EXPANDING THESE PROGRAMS.
That’s so unfair I was about to cry I was so excited but imagine saving money aside and then finding out you can use it for what you need it for like living expenses or education past a certain age. They keep limiting how disabled people can live I feel like my brother had no future in so stressed