According to the CDC, one in four Americans currently lives with a disability. This equals more than 60 million Americans who live with a disability that impacts major life activities. Of all the disabilities, the most common type is a mobility disability which affects 1 in 7 adults. Other types of disabilities include cognitive, independent living, hearing, vision, and self-care.
Physical and mental disabilities can make it difficult to work, perform basic daily care, and enjoy an active lifestyle. These disabilities can also impact mental health and can lead to depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts.
As you can imagine, disabled individuals and their families need access to healthcare for the majority of their lives. Because healthcare costs can be extraordinary, Virginia was the first state to sign the ABLE Act into law.
ABLE (Achieving Better Life Experience) allows eligible disabled persons and their families to implement and administer a tax-advantaged savings account. It is a national ABLE program that is sponsored by the Commonwealth of Virginia and administered by VIrginia529.
The ABLE Act recognized the extraordinary costs of living with a disability and allowed disabled individuals the opportunity to save for those expenses without jeopardizing their eligibility for other critical benefits programs, such as SSI or Medicaid.
The ABLE Act can help a disabled individual and his or her family:
- Save for or pay for education
- Save for or pay for a home
- Save for or pay for a vehicle
- Save for or pay for employment training
- Save for or pay for assistive technology
- Save for or pay for health, prevention, and wellness
- Save for or pay for personal support services
- Save for or pay for financial management or administrative services
- Save for or pay for certain other expenses
However, only certain disabled individuals are entitled to open an ABLE account. Determining eligibility is key to being able to open an ABLE account in the state of Virginia.
Who is Eligible for ABLE?
Not everyone who is disabled in Virginia is eligible to open an ABLE account. ABLE accounts in Virginia are for:
- Blind or disabled individuals whose disabilities occurred before their 26th birthday
- Must have a qualifying disability
- Entitled to SSI or SSDI based on disability is automatic ABLE eligibility
- Self-certifying disability with a signed disability diagnosis from a qualifying physician
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine your eligibility for an ABLE account. Perhaps you received your disability diagnosis after your 26th birthday? But what if the disability started well before the official diagnosis?
Advocates are trying to increase access to ABLE accounts by increasing the age of onset of disability. The ABLE Age Adjustment Act is one such way bipartisan advocates are trying to help. This act would effectively raise the eligibility cap to the onset of disability before the age of 46, opening up these benefits for even more disabled individuals and their families.
Due to these complexities, it is important to have an experienced Northern Virginia estate planning attorney help you determine ABLE eligibility, so you can better plan for the future.
Contact Our Northern Virginia Trust and Estates Law Firm
An experienced Virginia estate planning attorney can review all of your options with you when planning for the future of a special needs person.
Northern Virginia Trusts & Estates provides affordable estate planning services for Virginia families, including special needs trusts.
For more information about special needs trusts, wills, estate planning, our services and packages, contact our office today at 703.938.3510 or visit our website.