/New tax-free accounts allow Mississippians with disabilities to save without the risk of losing benefits

New tax-free accounts allow Mississippians with disabilities to save without the risk of losing benefits

Richard Courtney, a disability rights lawyer and elder law attorney said that a person with a disability like my daughter cannot have $4,000 to maintain the Medicaid assistance she receives. Courtney explained that beneficiaries of Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disabil Income, and/or who participate in programs such as Medicaid or Medicare are subject to asset limits. If they exceed the limits, benefits are suspended. These limits can often be as low at $2,000. Paul Rogers, a disability rights lawyer, stated that a grandparent with a child with a disability will leave money to them. It won’t be a lot – $5,000 or $10,000 – but it will not be large. “They must either lie to Social Security or Medicaid, or conceal it. They lose their benefits until the money is spent.” People who wish to support relatives with disabilities have been limited to buying groceries. The state launched a program on July 1 that allows Mississippians with disabilities the opportunity to save money and not lose their government benefits. According to the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, income from these accounts is exempted from tax if it’s used for qualified disability-related expenses. The federal Achieving a better Life Experience (ABLE Act) was signed in 2014 by President Barack Obama and the Mississippi ABLE Act signed in 2017. Phil Bryant was elected in 2017. Courtney’s daughter can now save up to $15,000 per year to pay for her medical bills, monthly expenses and any other items that are allowed by the law. She is able to make her own financial decisions and not depend on others to pay her …,” Courtney stated. Courtney can now worry less about his daughter’s future. Courtney stated that his daughter will eventually lose her mother and father. Courtney also said that Courtney is saving money to be able to pay for her own care and keep her Medicaid benefits and SSI if necessary. The ABLE program might have other benefits than financial, according to Emily Lund, assistant clinical professor at Mississippi State University and National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision. Lund stated that while financial independence is generally beneficial psychologically, it can also be detrimental. Lund also stated that parents should be able to save money for their disabled children, which can help relieve stress. Individuals who are disabled prior to 26 years old are not eligible. According to Billy Taylor, chief of staff at Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, there was no age limit to the legislation. However, they ran the legislation through the budget office. They calculated the cost of the legislation and found that it would cost $20 billion. This was enough to cancel the bill. “So (age limit was added… to reduce the cost of program.” Mississippi is a member in good standing of the National ABLE Alliance. This is a consortium of states that use the same program. This program allows residents of other states to open ABLE accounts. Contributors to ABLE accounts can deduct contributions from their taxable income. Account holders can use debit cards and choose from seven investment options. According to Laura Trujillo (senior public relations manager at Fifth Third Bank), who manages the ABLE Alliance savings account, “We know from surveys that people with disabilities live in poverty more than people without disabilities.” We want to lift them out from poverty. These families will be able to save money and not lose their government benefits through ABLE accounts. Mississippi ABLE participants have six investment options. Accounts are open to anyone who is at least 50 years old. However, they do not require a minimum deposit. Account maintenance costs $3.75 per month, or approximately $45 annually. Mississippians with disabilities can apply online or by mail. You can find more information about Mississippi ABLE here.