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Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Public Forum October 22, 2015

Dec 13, 2015



  • Slide 1

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Public Forum October 22, 2015 Slide 2 Webinar and Public Forum Format (1)All lines will be muted by the organizer until the end of the session. (2)Questions may be asked via the chat feature (typewritten) or by utilizing the raise hand feature (indicating a verbal question) at anytime. (3)Everyone please locate and press your hand symbol to ensure you know how to ask questions in this manner. The organizer will unraise all hands. (4)Questions and comments will be addressed after the presentation. Slide 3 What this Webinar & Public Forum Will Do Provide basic information about the federal ABLE Act Provide basic information on what components are required of State programs Provide an overview of what features Maryland is contemplating for its own program Slide 4 What this Webinar & Public Forum Cannot Do Cannot answer questions about specific eligibility or money management scenarios (e.g., questions about ABLE accounts for individuals who are under guardianship) Cannot provide a specific timeframe when a program will be available in Maryland or another state Please remember: NO STATE including Maryland has a functioning ABLE program yet (although many states, like Maryland, have passed legislation instructing State agencies to create programs) Final federal regulations have not yet been released Slide 5 The Federal ABLE Act Slide 6 Signed by President Obama on December 19, 2014 (Public Law 113-295) Adds ABLE Accounts to Section 529A of the IRS tax code Want to read more? See the Maryland Department of Disabilities website at Slide 7 What Does the Federal ABLE Act Do? The Federal ABLE Act allows states to: create a new option for eligible people with disabilities to save money in a tax-exempt account that may be used for qualified disability expenses while still keeping their eligibility for federal public benefits. Slide 8 Eligible Individuals with Disabilities To be eligible for an ABLE account, you must: (1)Have developed a disability prior to the age of 26 => You do not need to have been formally diagnosed with the disability, but must be able to show documentation that you had the disability (2) Meet the Social Security definition of disability You can show this by: Showing you have been found eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security disability benefits OR Providing disability certification from a doctor stating that you meet the Social Security- level of disability Slide 9 Tax-Exempt Accounts: Advantages Withdrawals of money in these accounts are tax-exempt so long as they are used for the accounts intended purpose (qualified disability expenses) States may choose to offer a tax deduction for contributions to these accounts Slide 10 Tax-Exempt Accounts: Limitations Ownership: The eligible individual (person with a disability) is the ABLE account designated beneficiary. Only the eligible individual or a legal guardian/power of attorney may open an account. Number: Each designated beneficiary may have only one ABLE account. Accounts cannot be opened by other people on behalf of a designated beneficiary. Residency: Currently, the account must be opened in the designated beneficiarys state of residency or a contracting state (i.e., if your state has a contract with another state to administer the program) Slide 11 Tax-Exempt Accounts: Limitations Contributions: Multiple individuals may contribute to the account, but total annual contributions may not exceed the federal gift tax limit, which is currently $14,000. Medicaid clawback: When a beneficiary passes away, if that person used Medicaid, Medicaid can get reimbursed out of the funds remaining in the ABLE account. Slide 12 Qualified Disability Expenses Money in the ABLE account may be made for qualified disability expenses, related to the individuals disability or blindness, including: Education Housing Transportation Employment training and support Assistive technology and personal support services Health, prevention, and wellness Financial management and administrative services Legal fees Expenses for oversight and monitoring Funeral and burial expenses Any other expenses approved by the Secretary of the Treasury under regulations consistent with the purpose of the program Slide 13 Eligibility for Benefits Money in the account (up to $100,000) does not count against you for the purposes of establishing or maintaining eligibility for federal means-tested programs, e.g., Medicaid and SSI What does this mean? Individuals can accumulate more than $2,000 in assets without losing SSI benefits. Slide 14 Federal Requirements for State Programs Be established and maintained by a State or a State's agency or instrumentality; Create a program that provides certain oversights, including: Ensuring designated beneficiaries meet disability and residency eligibility requirements Ensuring that designated beneficiaries have only one account Creating safeguards to ensure that designated beneficiaries are using contributions for qualified disability expenses Returning contributions that exceed the $14,000 annual contribution limit Additionally, programs must: Maintain a separate accounting for each ABLE account Allow designated beneficiaries no more than two opportunities a year to provide investment direction Prohibit the use of interest accrued by an ABLE account as a security for a loan Slide 15 ABLE Act and Maryland Slide 16 Marylands Legislation During the 2015 legislative session, Maryland passed SB 761, which created the Task Force on Marylands ABLE Program Over 30 states have passed ABLE Act legislation, but no program is operational yet; many states are waiting for final federal regulations to come out Slide 17 Task Forces Charge Develop a plan for implementing the Maryland ABLE program and study issues related to the Maryland ABLE program, including writing a report and making legislative recommendations about: (1) Structure of the program (2) Which agency is in charge of the program (3) Staffing and funding needs (including how Maryland will pay for start-up) (4) Membership of the Board that will provide oversight for the program (5) State tax benefits Slide 18 Task Forces Timeline Recommendation Timeline The Task Force is not authorized to create or implement the ABLE program, just make legislative recommendations. The Task Forces report and legislative recommendations are due on or before December 1, 2015 to the General Assembly Implementation Timeline This means that the earliest any legislation creating an ABLE Act program in Maryland can be passed is between January to April 2016. There may also need to be additional time to implement/set up the actual program. Slide 19 Overview of Major Considerations Does Maryland want to designate one agency or multiple agencies (one lead that must consult, one or more coequal agencies) to have oversight of the program? Does Maryland want the responsible agency to be directly responsible for the program (perhaps with an advisory board consulting), or to act as the chair of a Board that is authorized to act for the program? Does Maryland consider this program to be a disability program or an investment program? Can a Maryland ABLE Program afford tax breaks for contributions, and will these tax breaks be meaningful to the contributors? Slide 20 Tentative Recommendations from Task Force Place College Savings of Maryland in charge of the program, but involve Maryland Department of Disabilities for the disability certification, qualified expenses, and reporting piece Add Secretary of the Department of Disabilities to the College Savings Board Request general funds to provide additional staff to support this program within College Savings/MDOD Tax break recommendations are pending Slide 21 Agency Selection in Other States From a survey of states which have passed legislation to create ABLE programs: Offices of the Treasurer (13), College Savings Programs (7), Health & Human Services agencies (6) Slide 22 Board Membership in Other States Programs are equally split between having boards and not having boards (although some may have boards that are not outlined in legislation). Of the programs that have boards outlined in statute, they are nearly equally split between serving in a purely advisory or oversight capacity and being able to implement, administer and contract on behalf of the ABLE program. Slide 23 Tax Breaks in Other States It is commonly understood among states that ABLE account money will not be considered income for the purposes of state or federal taxes. However, at least six states are also offering tax deductions for contributions to ABLE accounts. (Remember that the total amount of aggregate contributions by anyone to a single ABLE account per year is $14,000.) Slide 24 Funding Recommendations in Other States State estimates for start up costs range from: $0 $2 million Slide 25 Additional considerations Not federally required, but can be addressed in the Task Force report or legislation: How the disability certification process will work Customer service, including benefits counseling Impact on state means-tested programs Additional fraud prevention/safeguards Slide 26 The Developmental Disabilities Council is hosting an ABLE webinar on November 19th. You can learn additional information and get updates on the work of the Maryland Task Force and any changes to the federal regulations or progress being made in other states. See their website at Further information can also be found on the Maryland Department of Disabilities website at: Want to learn more? Slide 27 Questions or Comments? Speaker will address: (1)Chat feature questions per the que (typewritten) (2) Raised Hand questions per the que (verbal)- (3) The speaker will unmute lines one at a time. Raise Hand or uti

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