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Disabled may soon be able to set aside $14K, qualify for benefits

Many public benefits out there to help disabled individuals and their families are need-based. In other words, the disabled person’s household income must be below a certain amount for him or her to qualify. Supplemental Security Income is an example of a need-based disability program.

Many families of modest income, who could use these benefits to make ends meet, nevertheless exceed the maximum income. To help close this gap, Missouri State Sen. Eric Schmitt introduced a bill in the Legislature that would allow people in this position to set aside some of their income, tax-free, in order to qualify for SSI and similar benefits.

The bill is called the Missouri Achieving a Better Life Experience Program, or ABLE. It would allow individuals to put up to $14,000 per year into a 529 savings account. Considered a gift, the payment would be 100 percent tax-deductible, and the money would not be counted as part of the disabled individual’s household income.

The bill recently passed and is awaiting Gov. Jay Nixon’s signature, according to the Missouri Times. At a recent event celebrating it, Schmitt said that ABLE would allow families to avoid taking steps “to remain poor,” while still qualifying for needed benefits. The head of Paraquad, a disability rights advocacy group, praised ABLE as a major advance for disabled people in Missouri.

The Missouri bill is based on the federal 2014 ABLE Act, passed by Congress. That law directed state governments to create their own legislation allowing the 529 accounts.

For advice on successfully applying for SSI or Social Security Disability Income, an experienced attorney could be very helpful.

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