Abromson & Carey, Attorneys at Law
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Innovative program may be game changer for the disabled

As this blog has discussed previously, simply being able to prove that one cannot work is not enough to guarantee that a Newark, New Jersey, resident will get disability benefits. In some situations, disabled individuals must rely on the SSI program, as these individuals may never have had the opportunity to develop a work history and thus are otherwise unable to get benefits.

However, qualifying for SSI requires that a person be of limited means, meaning that they cannot have an income or assets off of which they can live. This requirement is ongoing, meaning that even if a person initially qualifies for SSI, he or she will not be able to continue drawing these benefits if he or she manages to save enough money or otherwise comes into wealth.

While there is certainly logic to this rule, the down side is that it means SSI recipients are often forced to choose between living day to day without saving money and forfeiting benefits upon which they rely.

The good news is that four states are now offering special accounts to people under 26 who are drawing disability benefits. While New Jersey is not one of these states, three of the four states allow for non-resident participants.

These accounts allow people who are disabled to save up money, up to $14,000 a year, without having to worry about losing SSI. Relatives can also contribute to these special accounts, called ABLE accounts, without having to worry about costing their loved one his or her benefits. It should be noted, however, that the total amount that can be saved is $100,000. Nevertheless, these accounts allow young people to save money while remaining on disability.

Source: Bloomberg, "These government rules trap millions of Americans in poverty," Ben Steverman, Aug. 2, 2016.

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