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House OKs tax help for those on disability in rare show of unity

When pundits talk about Congress these days, words that don't typically come up are unity and bipartisanship -- except in the context of what everyone says they would like to see from the institution. But in the waning days of the current Congress, it seems that members of this lawmaking body, at least in the House, have seen their way clear to rally together in a big way. And the intended beneficiaries of this action are Americans with disabilities, many of whom depend on Social Security Disability Insurance for their well-being.

If you have been following the headlines in the St. Louis newspaper, you might be aware that the House voted yesterday 404-17 in favor of a bill that would allow those with disabilities to set up and benefit from tax-free bank accounts from which they could draw funds to pay for such expenses as education, housing and health care.

The concept is much like the one in place for establishing tax-free college savings accounts. Under the bill, states would be able to create similar programs for those who are disabled. Those currently receiving Social Security disability benefits would qualify, as would persons diagnosed by the age of 26 with disabilities that severely limit normal functioning.

The savings accounts under the so-called Achieving a Better Life Experience Act would be supplied by after-tax dollars from beneficiaries, but interest earned would not be taxed. Up to $14,000 could be deposited every year to cover long-term needs and accounts could hold up to $100,000 without the beneficiary losing eligibility for Social Security disability support. Right now the asset limit is set at $2,000.

The measure now heads to the Senate and quick passage is expected there.

This bill might not seem like very much, but considering how difficult it can be for those who are eligible for help to secure SSDI benefits, this kind of cushion could prove to be significant help.

Source: ABC News, "House OKs Bill to Widen Federal Help for Disabled," Hope Yen, Associated Press, Dec. 3, 2014 

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