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Once the SSDI begins, do you know your backstop options?

We have noted before that it can be a grind to get the approval necessary to begin receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The Social Security Administration's job is to provide for the needs of those who qualify for these programs, but meeting requirements to clear the eligibility threshold can be difficult and frustrating without support.

Even after you clear that bar, the amount of money you receive is modest. By the government's own acknowledgment, the average benefit barely keeps individuals above the poverty line. Funds generally only cover basic needs.

How you can pool resources

While the picture presented to this point seems dire, it does not have to be. Those with experience in this area of the law know that various methods are available to help individuals with disabilities and those who care about them establish nest eggs that provide financial support without running afoul of the means-testing rules government uses to determine benefit eligibility.

One common instrument is the special needs trust. These professionally administered accounts exist for an individually named beneficiary. The source of funding might be an inheritance or a gift. If the disability resulted from an accident, proceeds might come through personal injury litigation.

Another option that is only a couple of years old is the ABLE account. That stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience.

These are tax-advantaged savings accounts into which disabled individuals or their families can deposit funds. As much as $100,000 can be accrued without it affecting eligibility for government benefits like SSDI. The condition for having these accounts is that the funds can only be used for disability-related expenses. The list of acceptable costs is broad and includes, education, job training, personal support services, health care and transportation.

Money deposited and interest earned in an ABLE account, and funds withdrawn, enjoy significant tax advantages or are exempt from taxation. Considering that impaired individuals face higher costs of living than most of us, it's clear that it makes sense to explore all means to achieve peace of mind for those who rely on hard-to-obtain government support.

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Steele Law, LLC | 3 W Claiborne St. |Monroeville, AL 36460 | Phone:251-216-3785 | Fax: 251-575-7089 | Map and Directions