SD Network

Category: ABLE Accounts

New data shows far fewer people have opened  ABLE accounts than are needed to ensure viability of the program.  Created under a 2014 federal law, ABLE accounts enable people with disabilities to save up to $100,000 without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government benefits. Less than 35,000 ABLE accounts were opened as of the end of 2018, and 450,00 need to be  opened  by June of 2021 in  order to self-sustainability and continue to offer ABLE plans with low fees.

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Federal officials are looking closer at how money is being spent in ABLE accounts.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently issued guidance to public housing officials across the country clarifying how they should treat funds accrued in ABLE accounts.

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New legislation, known as the ABLE Adjustment Act, would make ABLE accounts accessible to thousands of more people.  Currently, individuals with disabilities that onset by age 26 qualify.  This new Act would move the age to 46.  ABLE accounts allow people with disabilities to save up to $100,00 without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government benefits. 

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With a change taking effect this year, individuals with disabilities can save more money than ever before without losing out on Social Security, Medicaid and other government benefits.  People with  disabilities can  now  put up to $27,140 in an ABLE account per year.  In addition, the IRS indicated that workers with disabilities who have ABLE accounts can now qualify for a Saver’s Credit.

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A lack of accessible restrooms on planes, sensory overload of going through crowds, and security screening are only some of the things that can make air travel difficult for people with disabilities. To help with this, there will be an "Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights" developed.  President Trump recently signed legislation around airline passengers with disabilities. This includes disability training for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees and increased fines for harm to passengers with disabilities or damage to wheelchairs. TSA has to change its training for screening passengers with disabilities. TSA must also have new rules about service animals on planes. The legislation even looks at accessibility best practices for airports and allowing in-cabin wheelchair restraints in the future.

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Disability advocates fear that without a major change ABLE accounts could be unsustainable.  ABLE accounts allow people with disabilities to save up to $100,000 without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government benefits. Medicaid can be retained no matter how much money is in the accounts.  According to many advocacy groups, ABLE programs across  the country are in desperate need of more account holders.  It's  estimated that 390,000 accounts are needed by June 2021 in order for ABLE programs to reach “bare bones sustainability.”  Disability advocates are pressuring Congress to pass the ABLE Age Adjustment Act before the end of the year in hopes that it will increase numbers.

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In 2016, Administration for Community Living's Administration on Aging contracted ICF International to conduct a participatory evaluation of the Title VI Grant Program, which provides home and community-based supportive services for older American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian populations.

The evaluation seeks to answer the following questions:

- How do tribes/organizations operate their Title VI Programs?
-  What is the impact of Title VI programs on elders in the community? Are there differences nationally or by tribe/organization?
- Do Title VI programs that are sole-sourced funded have a different impact than programs that are funded through multiple sources?

The evaluation, still ongoing, has released its Evaluation of the ACL Title VI Programs: Year 1 Interim Report outlining the approach to and the design of the evaluation. In addition, the report provides information on the evaluation participants, timeline of the project, and initial findings.

Two new grant opportunities from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) at ACL have been announced: the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project (DRRP) on exercise interventions for people with disabilities, and the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on health & function for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The purpose of the DRRP program is to plan and conduct research, demonstration projects, training, and related activities (including international activities) to develop methods, procedures, and rehabilitation technology that maximize the full inclusion and integration into society, employment, independent living, family support, and economic and social self-sufficiency of individuals with disabilities.

DRRP on Exercise Interventions for People with Disabilities -- The purpose of this DRRP is to generate new knowledge about the effectiveness of exercise interventions for people with disabilities.

The purpose of the RRTC program is to achieve the goals of, and improve the effectiveness of, services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act through well-designed research, training, technical assistance, and dissemination activities in important topic areas as specified by NIDILRR. These activities are designed to benefit rehabilitation service providers, individuals with disabilities, family members, and other stakeholders.

RRTC on Health & Function for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities -- The purpose of this RRTC is to conduct research, training, and related activities to contribute to optimal health and function outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Please visit the links above for more details about the grant opportunities and application process. These grant opportunities close on May 14, 2018.

Recently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) published an updated version of its Program Operations Manual System (POMS) regarding the ABLE Act and ABLE accounts. POMS is based upon the law and is an operational policy reference used by SSA internal staff to conduct SSA business.  

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Are you trying to keep track of all the potential Medicaid waivers that are pending or approved? The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a new interactive Medicaid Waiver Tracker. 

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