In order to receive Supplemental Security Income, beneficiaries or their families must meet a strict set of financial requirements. Namely, this is a program for individuals with qualifying medical disabilities who do not have a significant work record and do not have substantial assets or income. In other words, SSI benefits can provide relief to adults or children living under tight financial conditions.
For those who are currently receiving or in the process of applying for SSI benefits, there might be a lingering concern about amassing any savings or assets. With limited abilities to create a financial nest egg, it can difficult to make ends meet on a monthly basis. Advocates hope that a current federal legislative proposal will help ease some financial concerns.
Reports from the Washington Post indicate that lawmakers will soon be taking up the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. With the passage of this bill, families would be able to keep money in a tax-sheltered savings account to help pay for health-related expenses. This account is very similar to protected college saving accounts already made available under federal law.
A strong proponent of the bill indicated that individuals who receive SSI benefits feel discouraged from saving money, because having savings accounts larger than $2,000 automatically eliminates eligibility for a number of other programs. Additionally, without the ability to save, many family members are discouraged from working. Allowing sheltered accounts will open doors for many families receiving SSI benefits. Namely, they will be able to save funds and use them to access necessary care or disability services.
The basic idea behind this law make it clear that the federal requirements for SSI are incredibly complex. Knowing this, individuals may need to examine available options for disability benefits before moving forward with a claim.
Source: The Washington Post, "How the proposed ABLE Act will help parents of children with disabilities," Mari-Jane Williams, March 6, 2014