The United States is the land of opportunities for everybody. People can get their college degree or start their own business or climb the corporate ladder or write a book that sells millions of copies. The opportunities are endless for all people. If you are a person with a disability, you have money from the government for your personal assistants and other things, so you usually are scared of getting a job because you don’t want to lose your benefits.
Issues With SSI And SSDI
This fear is real for so many people. How do we solve this problem? Last year the unemployment for people with disabilities was 7.9% which was double the number of people who don’t have disabilities. Shocking? I am not shocked because the fear is real, and people don’t know what is available, so they could have a job and continue getting their benefits.
If people with disabilities have SSI or SSDI, they only can have about $2,000 and $3,000 if they are married in their bank accounts. That is not a lot of money to have. If they get a job and go over these amounts, they will have to return some of their SSI or SSDI. Is that fair? Absolutely not and it is a big pain to return the money.
There is a special bank account call Able checking account where the government does not penalize you for having over $3,000. You can have a maximum of $450,000 in this account and can still get your benefits. In other words, you can have a job and continue to receive your benefits. The issue is that not every state has this program set up yet, so you have to check with your state if they have it.
Illinois Able Accounts
Illinois has it set up for a while now and continue making improvements. What I am going to talk for the rest of this article is about the Able accounts in Illinois so if you are in a different state, the things that I am saying might or might not be in your state. So, you have to research for your state.
Who Can Have These Accounts
The people who can open an Able checking account must have a disability before the age of 26 although this might be raised to 40 soon. It makes sense because of all of the military service who are injured in combat. I think the age should be removed altogether because disability can happen at any age. Parents of kids with disabilities or power of attorney can open an Able account for the child at any age. It is better to open an account right away, so the child can grow their account.
The Able accounts are maintained by TCF bank, but to open an account up, you have to go to this website to sign up and after that, you will work with TFS bank with the day to day transactions. The initial setup process is only by the website.
You have to put in at least $25 when you open the account and can only put in up to $15,000 every year. So where can the money come from when you deposit money? It can be from any source - your SSI or SSDI checks, paychecks, money gifts for birthdays and Christmas, from your special needs trust, etc. You have to remember that you can put a maximum of $15,000 each year. If you put your SSI or SSDI checks with your paychecks, keep an eye on the total amount that you put in because I don’t know what will happen if you put in over the limit.
The question that you are wondering about is what you can use the money for. Well, if the money is for something for you, it is fine. If it is a new computer or a new wheelchair, these things are what you need. Say that you want to go to college, it is legally fine. You could go on vacation with your personal assistant. The thing to remember is that they could audit your spending so if you can justify that you had to go out of state for a wedding, it should be ok.
On the other hand, you cannot buy a gift with the money. I heard that a guy wanted to buy an engagement ring for his girlfriend, they said no. You have to keep track of what you spend with the money so if they come and audit you, you will be prepared.
The Money is Yours
The money is yours so if you were to die, you could give the money away. The state can’t touch it at all. This is important to remember because you might want to have a will made. There is something to note here and that is if you move to a different state and you already have an Able account, you can't open another account. You can only have one account.
With Able accounts, you could get a job and don’t have to worry about losing your benefits. By working, you will learn things that you cannot learn elsewhere. For me, I learned how to respect my bosses and coworkers. Yes, you have to respect your family members, but with a job, you can see the consequences more. Having a job gives you a purpose in life. We all should have a purpose in life, so we could change the world.