Good News for Disabled Individuals at the End of 2016

On December 20, 2016

The end of 2016 brings good news to disabled individuals and their advocates on two fronts:

  1. As of December 19, 2016, the two year anniversary of enactment of the federal law that authorized states to create the programs, Virginia’s ABLEnow program has gone live. The program permits eligible disabled individuals to invest up to $14,000 a year without endangering their Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income benefits.  Income earned on the accounts is exempt from federal and state income taxation.  For more information or to open an account, please consult Virginia’s ABLEnow program website: able-now.com. See also, a post to this Blog dated January 15, 2015, about ABLE accounts.
  1. In the second piece of good news, as a result of the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act (P.L. 114-255), as of December 13, 2016, disabled individuals themselves who are under 65 years of age may now create their own special needs trusts in order to shelter assets which would otherwise make them ineligible for Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income benefits. Heretofore, such accounts could only be created by the disabled person’s parents, grandparents, legal guardian or a court.

The Social Security Administration has published an Emergency Message (EM-16053) to alert Social Security Personnel to this change in policy in advance of updating the SSA Program Operations Manual.

As of the date of this post, we do not yet have updated Medicaid Manual or Virginia Regulation citations concerning either the ABLEnow accounts or the 21st Century Cures Act, but as soon as they do become available, they will be posted to this site.  Stay tuned and best wishes for 2017!

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