Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota Launch ABLE Programs

The ABLE National Resource Center, managed by National Disability Institute (NDI), is excited to congratulate the States of Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota on the launch of their respective ABLE plans. All 3 programs are members of the National ABLE Alliance, a group of 14 states that have pooled resources in order to offer their respective ABLE programs. Additionally, all 3 of these recently launched plans are open to eligible individuals with disabilities nationwide.

Both programs allow qualified individuals with disabilities to save up to $14,000 a year in an ABLE account without jeopardizing their eligibility for federally-funded means tested benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. The funds in the account can be used for disability-related expenses that assist the beneficiary in increasing and/or maintaining his or her health, independence or quality of life.

Millions of individuals with disabilities and their families are often relegated to a life of poverty as a result of not being allowed to build even the most modest levels of resources. Individuals receiving supports through Social Security, Medicaid and other publicly-funded programs are often disqualified from those supports if they have more than $2,000 worth of resources or assets. Now, with the launch of nationwide ABLE programs, individuals with disabilities and their families will be able to take a step to better secure their financial futures and to help offset the often significant financial challenges that can accompany living with a disability.

Not unlike the other ABLE programs across the country, all 3 of these ABLE Plan programs focus efforts to ensure minimal costs associated with establishing and maintaining an ABLE account (which can be done all online). For all 3 programs, the annualized investment costs on assets per investment option range from 0.34% to 0.38%, depending on which investment option(s) you select. Each account is charged an annual account maintenance fee of $60 as a base (split into quarterly payments) and an annual paper delivery fee of $15 for the printing and mailing of statements and confirmations. However, the annual paper delivery fee will be waived if you sign up for electronic delivery and an additional discount may be available for in-state residents (lowing the annual fee to as little as $40 or $10 every quarter).

Illinois ABLE, IAble, Minnesota ABLE Plan, NC ABLE, Kansas ABLE, ABLE Nevada, The Alaska ABLE Plan program, RI’s ABLE Plan program, the ABLEnow program, Kentucky STABLE program, Oregon ABLE Savings Plan, ABLE for ALL, MiABLE, ENABLE, ABLE TN, Ohio STABLE Account, and ABLE United programs are the programs currently enrolling beneficiaries, and they are doing so primarily via their online portals. We are also expecting several other states to launch ABLE programs throughout 2017.

For more information on the Illinois ABLE Plan program and how to enroll, please visit https://savewithable.com/il/home.html.

For more information on the IAble Plan program and how to enroll, please visit https://www.iable.gov/.

For more information on the Minnesota ABLE Plan program and to enroll, please visit https://savewithable.com/mn/home.html

For more information related to ABLE programs and accounts in general, and for the latest news regarding other state programs, please visit the ABLE National Resource Center at www.ablenrc.org.

This article courtesy of NABWIS (National Association of Benefits and Work Incentives Specialists  2017

 

 

It’s Official: ABLEnow is Open for Enrollment

Today marks an exciting milestone for people with disabilities, their families and advocates. ABLEnow is open for nationwide enrollment at able-now.com.

The ABLEnow program opens today on the two-year anniversary of the federal Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act being signed into law, authorizing states to establish ABLE savings programs.

ABLEnow provides people with disabilities the opportunity to save money for today’s needs or invest for tomorrow. These simple, affordable and tax-advantaged accounts allow eligible individuals to save up to $14,000 a year without endangering eligibility for certain means-tested benefit programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The ABLEnow program offers some of the lowest fees in the country, an online portal to manage your account and the ABLEnow Card—a debit card providing a simple, fast way to pay for qualified disability expenses. Eligible individuals can start their ABLEnow account with no enrollment fee and no minimum contribution.

Visit able-now.com to learn more and open your account today.

 

Stay tuned for more Iowa specific information as we receive it!

Coming Soon: Improved Check Your Application or Appeal Status Service

Posted on December 1, 2016 by Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

In December, Social Security will launch a new service for my Social Security account holders where the public can check on the status of an application for benefits or an appeal filed with us.

The service will provide detailed information about retirement, disability, survivors, Medicare, and Supplemental Security Income claims and appeals filed either online at socialsecurity.gov or with a Social Security employee.

The ability to check your application status will be available online to everyone who has or opens a secure my Social Security. You can open an account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

The service will provide important information about your claim or appeal, including, as appropriate:

  • Date of filing;
  • Current claim location;
  • Scheduled hearing date and time;
  • Re-entry numbers for incomplete applications;
  • Servicing office location; and
  • Claim or appeal decision.

If you are unable to open a my Social Security account, you can still call 1-800-772-1213 to check your claim status by using our automated system using the confirmation number you received when you filed your claim.

Providing our customers with more claim status information helps us meet our goal of delivering innovative, quality services to you and helping secure today and tomorrow.

Retrieved from : https://blog.ssa.gov/coming-soon-improved-check-your-application-or-appeal-status-service/

An Increase in Social Security Benefits in 2017.

This month the Social Security Administration annouced the following on their website SSA.gov:

The annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) usually means an increase in the benefit amount people receive each month. By law, the monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) federal benefit rate increases when there is a rise in the cost of living. The government measures changes in the cost of living through the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W).

The CPI-W rose this year. When inflation increases, your cost of living also goes up. Prices for goods and services, on average, are a little more expensive.  Since the CPI-W did rise, the law increases benefits to help offset inflation. As a result, monthly Social Security and SSI benefits for over 65 million Americans will increase 0.3 percent in 2017.

Other changes that would normally take effect based on changes in the national average wage index will begin in January 2017. For example, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security payroll tax will increase to $127,200.

Information about Medicare changes for 2017, when announced, will be available at www.Medicare.gov.  For some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums.

You can find more information about the 2017 COLA at www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.  For changes in the national average wage index, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/COLA/AWI.html.

New update from Social Security! How earnings are counted for Title II disability post-entitlement cases.

On September 26, 2016 Social Security updated the POMS to include the new legislative requirements for Section 825 of the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2015. This legislation changes the way earnings from services are counted in title II disability post-entitlement cases (SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), CDB (Childhood Disability Benefits) or DWB (Disabled Widow benefits).

In any title II disability case other than initial determinations, earnings will be presumed to have been earned in the month in which such earnings were paid unless it can be reasonably established, based on evidence readily available at the time of such determination, that the earnings were earned in a different month than when paid. This is a change from previous policy which required Social Security employees to attribute earnings to months in which the work was performed, rather than when the earnings were paid.

 

The notice of this change in the POMS can be found at Social Security’s website here:
https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/reference.nsf/links/09202016010717PM

Ticket Eligibility and Turning 65

Question: 

I’m working with a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary who will be turning 65 years of age next month.  Can they keep using their Ticket after they turn 65?

 

Answer:  

Yes.  If the beneficiary assigned their Ticket prior to turning 65 years of age, they can continue to use the Ticket to Work program until a terminating event occurs.  For an SSDI beneficiary, a terminating event would include entitlement to the benefit ending for reasons other than work.  In this person’s scenario, this would occur when the beneficiary reaches full retirement age and the SSDI automatically converts to a retirement benefit.  The Ticket would also terminate the month after the month the outcome payment period ends.

 

Please note, if this person received only Supplemental Security Income (SSI), their Ticket would terminate when they turn 65 years of age.

 

Reference:

POMS DI 55002.055  Policies Related to Ticket Terminations

https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0455002055

August Work Incentive Highlight: Requesting PESS (Property Essential to Self Support)

 

 

SCENARIO: A Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiary who is starting up a pet sitting business.  He plans to have a business bank account.  How does he request this bank account be excluded under Property Essential to Self Support (PESS)?

 

Answer:  PESS can exclude property (such as a bank account) if it is used in a business and if it’s in current use.  There isn’t a specific form to request PESS.  Instead, the beneficiary should contact Social Security when they open the business bank account to report this new resource.  Social Security will need to consider if a valid business exists, and if the property is in current use.  They will need to obtain the beneficiary’s statement (either written or verbal) about the following information:

 

  1. A description of the trade or business;
  2. A description of the assets of the trade or business;
  3. The number of years it has been operating;
  4. The identity of any co-owners;
  5. The estimated gross and net earnings of the trade or business for the current tax year

 

References:

SI 01130.501 Essential Property Excluded Regardless of Value or Rate of Return

https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0501130501

ABLE Accounts Update

As many of you know, the ABLE Act has been a hot topic across not only our state but the nation. People are desperately seeking answers to questions that still remain open-ended. Although Congress and the Iowa legislature have passed the ABLE Act, the Iowa State Treasurer is currently working on how this act will be implemented in Iowa. Therefore, no Iowan with a disability can establish an ABLE account yet. Iowa WIPA has spoken with the Treasurer’s Office and is staying up to date on the implementation process.

 As rules and regulations are hammered out, we will be sharing with you accordingly. In the meantime, check out some ABLE account basics:

How Does an ABLE account impact benefits

The President signed the ABLE Act into law in December 2014, in order to allow “qualified individuals with disabilities” the opportunity to establish a tax-free, savings account to pay for disability-related expenses.    

A “qualified individual with a disability” is a person whose onset of disability occurred before the age of 26.  The individual need not receive benefits based on disability but must establish that the disability began before age 26.  The individual with a disability or someone else, such as a family member, can establish an account.  If someone other than the beneficiary contributes to the account, the tax-free contribution is limited to $14,000 annually.  The beneficiary can also contribute to their own account.

As the creation of the ABLE account was to offset some disability-related costs of living, the ABLE account can be used for a broad variety of reasons related to disability:  transportation, home modification, education, medical & dental care, wellness, respite care, personal assistance and financial management services.

The ABLE account will NOT impact eligibility for means-tested, federally-funded benefits such as Medicaid and SNAP, but there are two exceptions for SSI:

  1. The balance in the account above $100,000 is a countable resource.
  2. The amount withdrawn from the ABLE account for a housing-related expense that is retained into the following month will become a countable resource.

References:

SI 01130.740 Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Accounts

http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0501130740

Did you know?

Iowa WIPA would like to help you make the most out of the Social Security Work Incentives!

Each month we will feature a Work Incentive that we get frequent questions on. This months topic is IRWE (Impairment Related Work Expense).

Because of your disabling impairment, do you have to pay for certain items so you can work?

Did you know, in most cases, Social Security can deduct the out–of–pocket costs of these items, which they call impairment–related work expenses (IRWE), from the amount of earnings they use to figure your SSI benefit.

How do these expenses affect my SSI benefits?

This means that they do not reduce your SSI benefit as much because they do not count all of your earnings.

What are some examples of IRWEs that can be deducted?

If you work, SSA may deduct your out–of–pocket expenses for items such as medicine, medical supplies, medical devices, service animals, and disposable items such as bandages and syringes when figuring the amount of your earned income.

They may also be able to deduct your out–of–pocket expenses for medical services such as doctors visits and some attendant care services charged for preparing you for work, attending to you while you are at work, or getting you to and from work. They may also deduct certain out–of–pocket expenses for transportation and modifications to your home, car, or van to allow you to work.

The expense must not be reimbursed, and must be related to your disability(ies) and needed in order for you to work.

To learn more visit https://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/spotlights/spot-work-expenses.htm or contact WIPA!

Continue reading “Did you know?”

Tis’ the Season to be Thankful!

Iowa WIPA actually believes every day is a day to be thankful, but it is a good reminder for us to thank you for your continued support. It truly is a joy for us to be able to provide support and expertise when you are making important decisions in your life. It is equally satisfying when someone shares with us their personal story of success. If you have good news about using Social Security Work Incentives, or working with Iowa WIPA that you would like to share, we would love to hear it!

Please email us at kgibbs@driowa.org. Keep in mind that anything shared with Iowa WIPA is always confidential. No personal identifying information is ever posted and your story will only be shared with your permission, using your words.

Today we leave you with a story of someone like you, who benefited from utilizing Social Security Work Incentives. We hope you are as encouraged and as impressed as we are!

“I want to share with anyone thinking about utilizing the work incentives program how beneficial it was for me. A few years ago, I had no idea that there were options for people with disabilities to work and still receive benefits while planning various career and educational goals. I signed up with vocational rehabilitation and they helped me pay for school by paying 40% each semester which was a huge help. I was able to graduate through the University of Iowa while I was on the PASS plan. The PASS plan allowed me to continue to receive full benefits as long as I was putting away toward my PASS plan. My PASS plan included cost of tuition (for the other 60%), books, supplies, and transportation costs. I purchased a car and I would make monthly payments with money from my PASS plan. It felt great to know I was finally on the right track and working toward my goal of becoming a Social Worker, so I can help others who may come from vulnerable populations like myself.   After I received my Bachelor’s degree, I decided to continue on and obtain my Master’s degree. I was no longer on the PASS plan because I had completed my original goal, but I felt as though I had much more confidence than I did prior to the assistance of the WIPA program. Having the support and people who truly believed I could succeed was what helped me the most. I couldn’t be more grateful for all of the support. Now, I am finally working full time after almost 10 years, and I have worked my way off of my benefits. It made me feel safe knowing that I had the security of the PASS plan, and I wasn’t going to be penalized for going back to work and finishing out my schooling.”

Congratulations from Iowa WIPA!