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Advocates seek legislative change to SSI rules, limits

Is there a federal program that can assist persons with mental or physical disabilities who do not quality for Social Security Disability benefits owing to an inability to sufficiently pay into the Social Security system through payroll taxes?

There is, indeed. The Supplemental Security Income program seeks to provide a protective netting for disabled persons who lack the requisite work experience to obtain SSD benefit checks. Unlike the SSD program, which is self-funded through workers’ tax contributions, SSI money comes through the nation’s general tax revenues.

It is an immediate necessity for many individuals and families in Wisconsin and nationally who seek information concerning SSI eligibility and entitlements to contact an experienced Supplemental Security Income attorney. A host of factors come into play regarding benefits under the SSI program, and proven legal counsel can ensure they are addressed and that a claimant’s best interests are fully promoted.

One such factor is the income ceiling that features in SSI cases and that dictates eligibility. Many people across the country believe that it is unfairly low and that, because a claimant can’t save or earn money above a paltry amount without risking eligibility, it serves as a natural disincentive for a disabled person to work.

A would-be law entitled the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) seeks to change existing law by enabling disabled SSI recipients and their families to open tax-sheltered savings accounts to pay for long-term needs. Supporters of the legislation -- introduced last year and reportedly with more than 400 co-sponsors in Congress -- want the money saved to be spendable by a recipient without counting toward the statutorily imposed limit on his or her assets.

An official with the National Down Syndrome Society says that the tax-sheltered thrust of ABLE will better enable disabled persons to live full and independent lives, without the limitations presently encapsulated in a decades-old law holding them back.

“It’s time to move into the 21st century,” says Sara Hart Weir, vice president of the society.

Source: The Washington Post, "How the proposed ABLE Act will help parents of children with disabilities," Mari-Jane Williams, March 6, 2014

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