IRS Proposes Rules for New ABLE Accounts

On Monday, June 23, the IRS issued a proposed rule regarding the implementation of the ABLE Act. In this proposed rule, the IRS unveiled guidelines for the ABLE Act. This law was designed to allow people with disabilities to save money without risking their government benefits.

This is the first time specifics for the new accounts have become available. It clarifies what expenses the money can be used for and how these accounts should function. It appears that the IRS took a lenient view as to what counts as a qualified disability expense. The ABLE Act mandates that money from this account can be used for transportation, housing and education. Other expenses could be covered by the ABLE Act, but those had to be determined by the regulators.

The proposal states, “The treasury department and the IRS concluded that the term ‘qualified living expenses’ should be broadly construed to permit the inclusion of basic living expenses and should not be limited to expenses for items for which there is a medical necessity or which provide no benefits to others in addition to the benefit of the eligible individual.”

There are other details within the proposal that are causing some concern. The reporting and oversite requirements outlined go beyond those governing 529 college savings plans that the ABLE accounts were modeled on. This could make ABLE accounts difficult to administer or utilize. Every time money from the account is to be spent, the individual will have to file paperwork with the state that demonstrates each expense falls under the category of qualified disability expense.

The proposed rules will be up for public comment for 90 days before the IRS issues final regulations. The public comment will be taking place in Washington D.C.

During this time, several states will be working to make the ABLE Act a reality for residents. Despite the federal law, each state must put their own regulations in place before making the accounts available.

The ABLE Act has been enacted in 22 states thus far. Each of these states is still working out the details related to administering the program.  Some advocates believe that the states will likely wait for the IRS to issue their final rules before allowing financial institutions to begin offering ABLE accounts.

If you would like to read the proposed rules, please visit: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-06-22/pdf/2015-15280.pdf

If you would like to take part in public comment, please contact:

http://www.regulations.gov

A public hearing will be taking place on October 14, 2015. All comments must be received by September 21, 2015.

Van Accommodations for People with Disabilities

Recently, the Director of DCIL flew down to Minneapolis to purchase his new accessible van. He drove back from the cities in his 2013 Chrysler Town and Country Limited. He was able to experience many of the up to date technology new vans can offer. Some of these features include:

IMG_0524Features Include:

Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection

Rear Park Assist System

Automatic High Beam Headlamp Control

Rain Sensitive Windshield Wipers

Rear Back-Up Camera

Remote Start System

Keyless Entry

Steering Wheel Audio Controls

Power Liftgate

Power Sliding Doors

Heated Mirrors

The features listed here are only a few the van has to offer. Many of these features are available straight from the dealership. With the advancement of technology, automatic headlights and windshield wipers are beginning to be standard features on new vehicles. Features like the ones listed above help the driver to give their full attention to the road.

This van’s added features are what make it accessible.

Ramp

IMG_0527This ramp retracts into the floor of the van so that there is still plenty of room to maneuver a wheelchair.

Hand Controls

IMG_0529The gas and the break functions of this car can be handled using hand controls. The steering wheel also has a handle attached to make it easy to drive with one hand.

Electric Rotating Seat

IMG_0531The driver seat doesn’t just move back and forth. It also rotates to allow people to transfer to the seat much easier.

Magnetic Remote Seat Control

IMG_0532IMG_0530

These hand controls are attached to a remote. It has easy to press buttons. It is also magnetic and attaches to the side of the seat as shown above.

This van was purchased at Rollx Vans. If you’d like to learn more about van accommodations, you can call them at 952-890-7851.

Best Way to Find Out Severe Weather Alerts

When dangerous weather approaches, it is important to know the best way to get information. It is recommended that every home and business have a weather radio. The National Weather Service broadcasts warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day.

Weather radios come in many sizes and with a variety of functions and costs. Many of the radios sound a tone alarm and/or turn on the audio when severe weather announcements or emergency information is broadcast. Most of these radios are either battery-operated portables or AC-powered desktop models with battery backup. These radios can be purchased through various websites.

In Bismarck and Burleigh County area, KFYR 550 AM Radio is the designated emergency alert station; however, most local radio and television stations broadcast emergency information and weather warnings through alerts.  Some weather warnings are also available through various weather apps for smartphones. However, having a radio is always a good idea in case the phone battery dies.

Sanford Driver Rehabilitation Program

Sanford Health has a driver rehabilitation program. This driver evaluation and training process was created to help people resume their independent lifestyle after a disabling illness or injury. The therapists are certified driver rehabilitation specialists who will assess a person’s ability to drive safely and can also teach you how to use adaptive equipment and assist with vehicle modification and selections for specific needs.

A professional driving assessment may be necessary if a person has physical limitations that may require adaptive equipment, cognitive impairments that may cause problems in identifying driving hazards, visual impairments, delayed reaction time, and apprehension about an individual’s driving ability.

During the evaluation, the certified driver rehabilitation specialist gives a clinical evaluation of physical, cognitive, and visual skills. They will also evaluate a person’s behind the wheel performance, evaluate any adaptive equipment needs, help with vehicle selection and modifications, provide driving training which may include adaptive equipment, and refer the person to any other needed driver training program that might be needed.

In order to have a driving evaluation, a person needs to complete the application forms, submit medical records that relate to an illness or disability effecting driving, have a physician referral, have a valid driver’s license or special permit, meet North Dakota seizure law and visual requirements, and have prior authorization from funding sources, if applicable.

To find out more about the driver rehabilitation services, please contact:

Sanford Driver Rehabilitation Program

300 N 7th St

Bismarck, ND 58501

Phone: 701-323-6153

Capital Area Transit Provides Student Summer Fun Passes

Every summer, Capital Area Transit provides students with an affordable way to get around the Bismarck-Mandan area. A Student Summer Fun Pass costs just $20. This pass is available to students in K-12 as well as college students. In order to qualify, K-12 students just need to verify their age. College students must present a current student identification.

The Student Summer Fun Pass is good for unlimited rides from Memorial Day through Labor Day each year. To purchase a pass, you need to present exact cash or check to CAT drivers or stop in at the CAT’s administrative office located at 3750 East Rosser Avenue in Bismarck.

NCD Releases Update on Transportation Access Report Update

The National Council on Disability (NCD) released a comprehensive assessment on transportation for people with disabilities on May 4, 2015. The report picks up ten years after NDC’s 2005 publication of “The Current State of Transportation for People with Disabilities in the United States,” which, in part, led to major improvements in accessible transportation.

The report released on May 4, titled “Transportation Update: Where We’ve Gone and What We’ve Learned,” outlines both the progress made in the last decade and discusses persistent barriers that still remain. The NCD chair, Jeff Rosen states, “Much has happened in the last decade. More people with disabilities are riding public transit than ever before and yet, in many areas, significant barriers to ground transportation for Americans with disabilities remain pervasive.”

Rosen goes on to discuss taxi alternatives such as Uber, SideCar, Lyft, and others that could open up business opportunities that could provide much-needed travel options for people with disabilities.

Here are a few of the findings:

  • Taxi alternatives: Emerging transportation models like Uber, SideCar, and Lyft have vigorously resisted regulations that are usually imposed on the taxicab sector. Uber has openly claimed that it is not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Fixed Route Buses: Ridership of fixed route bus transit and rail systems have grown far faster than ridership on ADA paratransit.
  • Paratransit: There have been gains in the best practices in areas of eligibility, telephone hold time, on-time performance, no-show policies, etc.
  • Rural Transportation: The lack of rural transportation is a serious barrier to employment, accessible health care, and full participation in society.
  • Best Practices: Oregon, Iowa, and Main provide examples of positive coordination of transportation programs for people with disabilities. Cities such as Chicago, New York City, and Rhode Island still lack adequate wheelchair accessible taxi programs even though they have made progress.

New Medicare Cards to be Issued

In April, President Obama signed a bill that will end the use of Social Security numbers on Medicare cards. Currently, more than 4,500 people sign up for Medicare each day. Nearly 18 million people will qualify for Medicare within the next decade. This will bring Medicare enrollment up to 74 million people by 2025.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will begin issuing cards with new identifiers over the next four years. They will have an additional four years to reissue cards to current beneficiaries. The Medicare numbers that will be replacing the Social Security number currently listed on cards will be randomly generated.

It is thought that this change will help to protect Americans on Medicare. It will prevent them from having their Social Security number exposed; however, there will still be a possibility for scams to occur. It is important to always protect yourself against scams. Medicare will never call you or visit you at home.