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New law changes financial options for those with disabilities

The New Year is a time for new beginnings for Georgia residents. While most of these changes are personal, there are also new laws on the books that may affect Georgia residents in a number of different ways. Among these new laws is the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, otherwise known as the ABLE Act, which could dramatically change life for those living with a disability.

Typically, when individuals with disabilities set aside money to pay for certain expenses, they may be disqualified from Medicaid benefits and Social Security. This is surprising to many individuals, given how it is generally a positive thing to be putting money aside and saving for different goals.

Under the ABLE Act, however, individuals with disabilities can now open tax-free savings accounts to pay for these life expenses, without having to worry about their money disqualifying them as it previously did under the old law. Accordingly, individuals on both sides of the aisle are praising the bill as allowing individuals to save money for future needs.

There are still some limitations under the new law, however, which was passed after a long hard road by proponents of the bill. For instance, the individual's Social Security disability payments may be offset if the savings account balance exceeds $100,000.

The law also does not change the qualifications individuals must meet in order to obtain Social Security disability benefits. Accordingly, while the law provides some advantages for those who can save money, it does not change the need those individuals have to obtain the disability benefits or the importance of following the right procedures to get those benefits.

Source: Boston Globe, "A disabilities act, long in planning, is finally law," Joan Vennochi, Jan. 2, 2015

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