At the DNC last week, Anastasia Somoza, who has cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia, took to the stage to deliver an emotionally-stirring speech advocating for the rights of disabled people across the country. She also took the opportunity to brand Trump as a candidate that “feeds off of fear and division” and “shouts, bullies and profits off of the vulnerable Americans” while describing Hillary as someone who “sees her.” Unsurprisingly, this is a narrative which has reverberated with America’s media outlets as they couldn’t help but assist the Democrats in their effort to
exploithelp Anastasia in her quest to elect Hillary.
Just today, Bloomberg published an article entitled “These Government Rules Trap Millions of Americans in Poverty” that details the personal stories of various folks with disabilities who are willing and able to work but don’t out of fear of oppressive rules which could result in the loss of their government benefits. Take the case of Susanne Brasset, who says she only keeps $5 in her bank account because she’s “scared to save more” due to the risk that she might lose her social security “medicaid and other crucial benefits”. Brasset goes on to confirm that:
“There’s more money I could be making, but I’m discouraged by all the rules I need to adhere to.”
How rude! We’re truly disgusted that our government would seek to oppress the country’s benefit recipients with outlandish rules aimed at determining a person’s financial wherewithal prior to doling out billions of taxpayer dollars. This country claims it wants to protect its citizens but blatant taxpayer protections like this only serve to permanently impoverish marginalized segments of our electorate. Bloomberg describes these taxpayer protections as rules that are:
“intended to bar freeloaders [but] end up keeping disabled people in a permanent state of poverty, unable to put money away for emergencies, retirement, and other life goals.”
How could anyone argue with that? But don’t worry, as Bloomberg points out, there is a “loophole” that allows benefit recipients to save up to $100,000 without risking their taxpayer-funded benefits. Introducing ABLE:
ABLE is a savings account, created by Congress in 2014, that can be opened by or for people with a disability that began before they turned 26. Like a 529 college savings plan, ABLE accounts are run by states, which need to pass legislation of their own to create them. Just as investment gains in a 529 plan aren’t taxed if the money is used for higher education, the funds in an ABLE account are tax-free if they go toward disability-related expenses, a broad category that includes housing, education, health care, and basic needs.
ABLE goes only so far in fixing a confusing and frustrating system, but it does create a much-needed loophole. For some, the account offers a way to prepare for emergencies. For others, like 35-year-old filmmaker and activist Dominick Evans, it could let them save money that doesn’t count toward the asset cap so they can work without losing benefits.
Strings are attached. Total contributions, whether by an account holder, friends, or family, are capped at $14,000 a year. If an account exceeds $100,000, the holder can lose eligibility for cash benefits from Social Security‘s Supplemental Security Income program until the overage has been spent. When a Medicaid recipient dies, the health insurance program for the poor can take the contents of an ABLE account as compensation for the care that was provided.
News of this option brought a huge sigh of relief from Susanne, who said that ABLE:
“…gives me peace of mind. Saving money should be a right to each and every American.”
We’re a little fuzzy on our founding documents but admit that we missed the constitutionally protected right of all Americans to redistributed wealth.
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