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Bill would create savings accounts for the disabled in New Jersey

A bill that may help people who are disabled better their financial situations is wending its way through the New Jersey legislature. The bill advanced out of a panel in the state assembly recently, and would create the availability of certain special savings accounts for New Jersey residents who suffer from disability. While not yet official, the bill is now one step closer to becoming law.

The bill was proposed in response to the passage of a federal law called the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, or ABLE, which was signed by the President last December. The state version would create an ABLE section in the New Jersey Department of Human Services, which would administer a program providing the services necessary for individuals with disabilities to open tax-free savings accounts that could contain up to $100,000. According to a state legislator, the purpose of the law would be to allow certain disabled people to place funds into a savings account without jeopardizing their eligibility for some government benefits, such as Social Security.

As usual, there will be some restrictions that apply. The applicant may only open one ABLE account and must have a disabling condition that occurred before the age of 26. Further, federal law mandates that the funds must be used for qualifying expenses. These would include housing, education, transportation, employment training, health and wellness expenses, assistive technology and personal support and some other miscellaneous expenses such as legal fees and funeral costs. The state law would require the filing of a prescribed application, an initial minimum contribution and proof of New Jersey residency.Having a disability is difficult, and even if one qualifies for benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance, it can be hard to make ends meet. Lawmakers at both the federal and state levels hope that the ABLE act will aid some disabled persons in advancing their financial situations. If you are disabled, have an inability to work, and have questions about the impact of the proposed law, or about applying for SSDI, you may wish to consult with an experienced disability attorney.

Source: The Bergen Dispatch, "Bill to Create Tax-Free Savings Accounts for Individuals with Disabilities Advanced by Assembly Panel," June 15, 2015

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