Individuals with disabilities that prevent them from working and earning a living nonetheless have financial needs. On June 29, 2015 Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed the Missouri Achieving a Better Life1 (ABLE) act into law, allowing individuals to make contributions into an account for the purposes of financing the qualified disability expenses of a designated beneficiary if disabled before the age of 26. People who take advantage of the new law will be able to contribute up to the federal annual gift tax exclusion amount (currently $14,000) and allows for certain state income deductions for the contributions.
Additionally, the new law will allow disabled persons to protect a significant amount of money without jeopardizing their means-tested government disability benefits, as well. The maximum amount a disabled Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) recipient can protect in ABLE account(s) is $100,000. But, like a special needs trust that is funded with the disabled person’s money, the State must be paid back after the death of the disabled person for any Medicaid expenditures paid to the disabled person during their lifetime. The payback encourages the money to be used for the benefit of the disabled person and not saved for heirs.
This new law will help individuals living with disabilities and substantially improve the lives of thousands of Missourians. In addition to the accounts authorized by the ABLE Act, individuals with disabilities can also protect money they save through Individuals Development Accounts (IDAs) without jeopardizing their eligibility for public benefits. Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) are matched savings accounts that help people with modest means to save towards the purchase of a lifelong asset, such as a home. The matching program is sponsored through local financial institutions and nonprofit organizations, or program sponsors.
Despite changes to the laws that help disabled persons keep more without disqualifying them from means-tested benefits, the new law is limited. Working with an attorney experienced in disability law is important to protecting inheritance that would otherwise benefit a disabled person without requiring it to be paid back to the state upon the beneficiary’s death; and to help protect personal injury settlements and other monies owned by the disabled person in excess of the prescribed caps. Disabled persons will also continue to have other legal needs that should be addressed by a qualified legal professional. Among the types of matters that St. Louis disability attorney, Melissa Leavy, handles are the following:
- Government Benefits Planning
- Estate planning and Powers of Attorney or Guardianships
- Medicaid and Veterans Benefits planning
- Special needs planning and protecting personal injury settlements
- Probate and trust administration
- Long-term care planning
In many instances, the advice and representation of an experienced attorney can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life and financial well-being. For this reason, anyone with financial issues related to a disability should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Contact a St. Louis elder law attorney today to schedule a consultation
Individuals who are disabled or otherwise unable to support themselves should retain legal counsel immediately. St. Louis medicaid planning attorney, Melissa Leavy, has dedicated her legal career to advocating on behalf of the disabled and elderly and works tirelessly to ensure that the rights of the most marginalized are protected. To schedule a consultation with Ms. Leavy, please call our office today at 314-932-5573. Prospective clients can also send Ms. Leavy an email by filling out our online contact form.