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Category: ABLE Accounts

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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A major tax law that took effect in January is bringing changes to savings accounts for people with disabilities and causing concern about funding for programs.  Under the new law, people with disabilities will be able to roll over their funds from a traditional 529 college savings plan to their ABLE account.  This change will help families who setup regular college savings plans before learning that their child had a disability. In addition, the new law allows people with disabilities to save their earnings exceeding the federal poverty level.  However, advocates warn that the change comes with risks due to the way the law was written.  Account holders are responsible for monitoring their contributions to ensure that they're in compliance.  Mistakes could be costly-- potentially disqualifying people from government benefits.

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According to a recent report, thousands of people with disabilities have opened ABLE accounts, but experts point out that millions more could benefit from them.  ABLE accounts,  which made their debut just over a year ago, allow people with disabilities to save a large amount of money without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government benefits.  As more states launch ABLE programs, the number of accounts continue to increase, but its been slower than anticipated.  There have been a few road bumps which have prevented people from getting one.

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ABLE accounts are accounts that allow people with disabilities to have a savings account without jeopardizing their  benefits.  Accounts can be used for disability-related expenses that will increase and/or maintain a person's health, independence, or quality of life.  It was recently announced that  the total annual contribution limit to an ABLE account will be increased from $14,000 per tax year to $15,000 per tax year beginning in 2018.

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the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance to State Medicaid Directors regarding the “Implications of the ABLE Act for State Medicaid Programs.” The ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) is pleased to see that the vast majority of the guidance acts to reinforce the language, spirit and congressional intent of the ABLE Act to ensure that ABLE accounts should “supplement, but not supplant” public benefits being provided to the ABLE account owner, including supports and services provided by the Medicaid program.

The contents of the letter are divided into the following topics:

  • Treatment of Funds in an ABLE Account
  • Contributions to ABLE Accounts
    • Contributions by Third Party
    • Contributions by the ABLE Account Beneficiary
    • Contribution by Third Party who Apply for Medicaid
  • Distributions from ABLE Accounts
    • Treatment of Distributions Exceeding QDEs for Non-MAGI Determinations
    • Treatment of Distributions Exceeding QDEs for MAGI Determinations
  • Post-Eligibility Treatment of Income
  • Transfer of ABLE Funds to State Estate Recovery.

Over the next few days, the ANRC, in collaboration with our partners in both the disability community and 529A community, will be working to analyze the guidance from CMS and develop a comprehensive summary. Additionally, the ANRC plans to host a dedicated national webinar aimed at helping all ABLE related stakeholders better understand how ABLE accounts may interact with Medicaid eligibility and supports and services given this new directive.

For initial highlights, and to read the CMS letter, visit the ANRC website.

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