COVID-19, Stimulus Payments and Enhanced Unemployment Benefits

 

Service Update

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Federal Stimulus Check Update

Like many Americans, you may have received a stimulus check from the federal government. If you contribute your check to your NY ABLE account it will not count as an asset for federal needs-tested benefits programs. Please review the information on this page to learn more. As always, should you have any questions, please contact a client service representative from 8:00 am – 8 p.m. ET at 855-569-2253.

If you are already receiving monthly Social Security benefits you will get the stimulus payment the same way. In order for the stimulus payment to not count as an asset, you must use the money within 12 months. 

Can I contribute the stimulus payment to my NY ABLE Account?

Yes! You can contribute all or part of your stimulus payment to your NY ABLE account. That way, you don’t have to worry about spending the money right away if you don’t need to. Contributing the money to your account can also give you flexibility. It will be treated just like any other contribution to your account. That means it won’t count toward your $2,000 asset limit, even after the 12 month period discussed above is over.

Why should I consider putting some, or all, of this payment into an ABLE account?

An ABLE account can help you save for things that are not covered by your federal and state benefits. If you don’t need to use the stimulus payment for things right now, you could use it to start saving. You can save for any disability-related expense. This includes adaptive equipment, a vehicle, a home, assistive technology, personal support services, and many other expenses. You can also use an ABLE account to save for disability-related emergencies.

Do I have to use the stimulus payment the same way that I use my SSI benefit money?

No. The stimulus payment is NOT a payment from the Social Security Administration (SSA).  You do not have to follow Social Security rules when you spend it. Your stimulus payment can be used in any way you choose. You could use your payment now. You could spend it within 12 months. You could contribute it to your NY ABLE account to give yourself more time to spend it while preserving your benefits. Keep in mind that if you contribute your stimulus check to your NY ABLE account, to avoid negative tax consequences, you must use those funds for disability-related expenses in the same manner as the other assets in your NY ABLE account.

Will the stimulus payment disqualify me from receiving SSI benefits?

As long as you use the stimulus money within 12 months, the money will not count toward your $2,000 SSA asset limit. After a year, whatever is left will count toward your $2,000 SSI asset limit. However, if you contribute your stimulus money to your NY ABLE account, it won’t count toward your $2,000 asset limit, even after the 12 month period is over.

How does my NY ABLE account help me keep the stimulus payment from exceeding my $2,000 asset limit?

You will not lose your benefits or lose eligibility for federal benefits (like SSI, SSDI, Medicaid and HUD) by owning an ABLE account. For example, funds in your NY ABLE account are not counted toward your $2,000 asset limit for SSI eligibility. Therefore, if you contribute your check to your NY ABLE account, it won’t count toward your $2,000 asset limit, even after the 12 month period is over, as long as your total NY ABLE account balance does not exceed $100,000. Keep in mind that you are subject to an annual contribution limit of $15,000, plus the annual additional contribution limit if you are employed (the lessor of $12,490 or the account owner’s income for the 2020 tax year). 

Are there any other payments related to COVID-19 that I should be aware of?

If you were working and lost your job, you may be able to receive unemployment benefits. As part of its stimulus program, the federal government is giving people who receive unemployment an extra $600 per week for a limited period of time. Unemployment benefits are counted as unearned income for SSI. You must tell Social Security if you are receiving unemployment. This could affect your SSI or SSDI benefits.

If you contribute your unemployment benefits to your NY ABLE account, they will not count as an asset for federal benefits eligibility.  Unemployment payments will count as income, however, when you receive them.

Where can I get more information about stimulus payments?

IRS. “Economic Impact Payments.” https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments.   US Treasury. “The CARES Act Provides Assistance to Workers and their Families.” https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/cares/assistance-for-american-workers-and-families

Where can I find more information about supported financial decision making? 

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “Your Money, Your Goals: Focus on People with Disabilities.” https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_ymyg_focus-on-people-with-disabilities.pdf