Patrick B. McGuigan
Fourth in a series of reports
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan. The measure passed in recent weeks provides emergency assistance for individuals, families, and businesses that are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. What might not be fully realized is that citizens with disabilities are included in this act’s important benefits, as well.
Extra funding mechanisms are allowed for housing of people with disabilities, money for independent living centers and non-profits that support citizens with disability and which can apply for federal small business loans.
It is clear that many people with disabilities — including those receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits — will qualify for $1,200 in cash payments from the government as part of the relief package. Some questions arise, naturally. With the help of Ellyn Novak Hefner, our “go-to” expert in such matters, here is the answer to a question many have asked.
QUESTION: If a citizen who has a disability receive a stimulus check, will it affect their benefits if they go over the asset limit?
The answer is “no”. But there are some details about how long you have to spend the stimulus checks and an option of where to deposit the stimulus checks.
ABLE Act is an excellent program and a wise place to deposit stimulus checks.
As detailed in earlier stories for The City Sentinel, in Oklahoma we have OKSTABLE.
Any person who receives a government stimulus check, and is eligible to have an OKSTABLE Account, may deposit the stimulus funds into this account (subject to the applicable contribution limits) as a clearly prudent way to protect their benefits.
STABLE Accounts give people with special needs more independence and financial security. OKSTABLE Accounts are made possible by the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (“ABLE”) Act. STABLE Accounts allow individuals with disabilities to save and invest money without losing eligibility for certain public benefits programs, like Medicaid or SSI.
Oklahoma;s STABLE accounts are based on a working and highly effective (and prudent) program that first developed in Ohio.
“Oklahomans with disabilities have a great opportunity to use the OK STABLE Program to help manage their federal economic recovery payments,” Treasurer McDaniel said. “Money in a STABLE account is sheltered from asset limit calculations and can be used for a wide range of needed purchases to enhance their quality of life.”
Some more information on Stimulus funds and OKSTABLE:
* They will not be directly deposited by the federal government into the STABLE Account, but can be transferred from the account where the stimulus is deposited into STABLE Account at the discretion of the STABLE Account beneficiary or Authorized Legal Representative (ALR)
* All of the tax advantages of the STABLE Account remain in place for any contributions made into the OKSTABLE Account, including stimulus funds deposited into a STABLE Account.
* For those who will be receiving a personal stimulus from the federal government, consider placing those funds into an OKSTABLE Account.
To be clear: The CARES ACT does not include every child. The bill doesn’t provide any kind of payments to children over the age of 16 who are still claimed as dependents by their parents. Even if those children file their own taxes, if they are claimed as a dependent by a parent they will receive no stimulus payment, nor will their parents receive one on their behalf. The current language also excludes rebates for dependents with disabilities of any age.
Like everyone in our country, people with disabilities will need to determine how best to manage the funds they receive from the stimulus funding of the CARES Act.
“Placing these funds in a STABLE Account is a great way to protect and use these funds whether it is in the short-term or the long-term” explained Doug Jackson, Deputy Director of the national STABLE Account program.
Jackson continued, “Protecting stimulus funds is just one more way to use a STABLE Account to save, invest, and spend money without impacting public benefits programs like Medicaid and SSI.”
Call or email Ellyn Novak Hefner to learn more about Special Needs Planning and the OKSTABLE account contact her at: [email protected] or 405-640-9408.
Go to the resources section at OKSTABLE.org to view a useful and to-the-point webcast about this topic with Oklahoma state Treasurer Randy McDaniel, Doug Jackson from Ohio STABLE and Ellyn Novak Hefner from Mass Mutual Oklahoma.