As attorneys that focus a lot of our time and attention on helping people in New York City tap into disability benefits, we are used to cutting through red tape. We can jump through bureaucratic hoops and shuffle mountains of paperwork with the best of them. But there are certain barriers to benefits that we can’t overcome.
In a high-income, high cost of living area like Manhattan, financial barriers to benefits are often the most challenging limitations to overcome. There’s nothing quite so ridiculous as realizing you or your disabled loved one cannot tap into vital government benefits like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) because you or they make “too much” money. Nevermind the fact that living in New York City means you are barely scraping by.
Until recently, disabled individuals could not have more than $2,000 to their name without putting certain benefits at risk. However, ABLE accounts are changing this. ABLE accounts, which were authorized by the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014, allow New Yorkers with disabilities to save money in their own names without putting most means-based benefits at risk.
The accounts, which are also called 529A accounts, are designed to help individuals and families save private funds that can later be used to supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through Medicaid, SSI, SSDI, HUD, private insurance and other sources. Contributions can be made by eligible individuals, family members or friends, but are not tax-deductible.
The accounts are investment accounts managed by the Office of the New York State Comptroller. Earnings and distributions from the accounts are tax-exempt provided the funds are used to pay for qualified disability expenses.
Funds can be spent on:
To be eligible for an account, an individual must have a disability that was present before age 26. Participants must be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), be blind, have a significant disability documented by a physician, or have a disability that is included on the Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowances Conditions list.
The Seelig Law Offices has helped numerous clients successfully apply for SSI or SSDI so they can begin to tap into other benefits that will improve their quality of life. ABLE accounts are one of these benefits, but they are also a tool that can be used to ensure that a disabled individual is able to maintain their benefits without sacrificing their financial security or their quality of life.
If you or a loved one is struggling to get SSDI, SSI, or some other form of benefits, our firm may be able to help. We have years of experience guiding clients through various applications and appeals processes. If you would like to make an appointment with our team to discuss your unique needs, please contact our office to schedule an initial consultation.