March Money News

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Coming to you today with some of the latest money news. It’s chock full of COVID-related money stuff, because the pandemic is still happening.

But we’ll kick things off with some podcast updates.

Buckle up.

Launch Day for Season 2 of Mom Autism Money

Picture of a tatooed woman wearing glasses and a black shirt. Background is abstract shapes and flowers in shades of pink, green and white. Text reads 'How to Celebrate Autism Acceptance Month with Lei Wiley-Mydskey'

We’re baacccckkkk!

Today is launch day for Season 2 of Mom Autism Money.

In a couple days, Autism Acceptance month will start. With it, you’re probably going to see a TON of fundraisers for various autism-adjacent organizations.

Joyce and I sat down with Lei Wiley-Mydskey –  the founder of the very first neurodiversity library – to learn about which types of organizations many Autistic people would prefer you support, and how to spot them.

And if you’re not going to give money, that’s okay, too. Lei lets us in on other productive ways to celebrate. You can listen to this latest episode here.

More Mom Autism Money Episodes to Look Forward To This Season

Selfie of a woman overlooking a dramatic, canyon landscape. Background is abstract shapes and flowers in shades of pink, green and white. Text reads 'An interview with the Autistic Travel Goddess featuring Shalese Heard'

Joyce and I are pretty excited about Season 2. We’ll be releasing new episodes every Tuesday for the near, foreseeable future.

You can keep on top of the latest by subscribing to the show on your favorite podcast platform – whether that’s Apple Podcasts or Spotify or pretty much anywhere else.

Another good way to stay updated is by subscribing to the email list.

We have some phenomenal upcoming guests covering super interesting topics. A sampling of some upcoming episodes include:

Interested in sponsoring an episode? Get in touch!

ABLE Age Adjustment Act

Oh, hi. Here’s some more disability finance stuff.

Are you over the age of 26?

Did you get long COVID?

Or do you love someone who got long COVID?

Or are you just a human who cares that there are people out in the world getting long COVID?

If you didn’t previously have a disability, you might not know that there’s now a high likelihood that you’re going to need to use some social programs at some point throughout the course of your life.

And those social programs don’t just come with income caps. They also come with asset tests.

Asset tests count up certain, well, assets – like your savings account. Cash on hand. Emergency fund. Sometimes the value of your vehicle. Sometimes even the value of your home.

Then, if you have too much saved or own property that’s worth too much money, you won’t qualify for social programs.

For a lot of these programs, we’re talking about a maximum of $2,000 in assets. Sometimes more, depending on your state and the program. But also in some cases? Less.

You might find yourself wondering…isn’t $2,000 not enough for an emergency fund?

And you’d be right. This is actually a huge problem, and frequently keeps disabled people in poverty without a choice in the matter.

Luckily, there’s a solution.

ABLE accounts solve this problem – at least the asset test portion. Any money you put into your ABLE account cannot be counted against you for asset tests, and you can currently contribute up to $16,000/year (more with ABLE to Work.)

For some programs, like SSI, you can shelter up to $100,000 total. Other programs may not have a cap.

Unfortunately, you don’t qualify for it.

Right now you can only open an ABLE account if you were under the age of 26 at the time of onset of your disability.

That means everyone who developed long COVID who was 26 and older at the time cannot open an ABLE account under current law.

So they’re permanently stuck with the asset tests that prevent them from saving money or building wealth.

YAYYYYYY ABLE Age Adjustment Act

Or maybe not so permanently.

Right now, there is legislation in the Senate that would up the maximum age of onset to the day before your 46th birthday.

This legislation is known as the ABLE Age Adjustment Act.

If it were passed into law, it would mean an entire generation of people with long COVID and people with other disabilities (including about a million veterans) could newly access an ABLE account.

In my ideal world, it would be available to anyone regardless of age of onset.

But this would be a marked improvement.

Oh, one thing. Congress actually needs to pass it.

The ABLE Age Adjustment Act has been introduced in Congress. It’s gotten enough support for that.

But now it needs to actually make it into a bill. There’s an opportunity to make that happen right now by including The ABLE Age Adjustment Act in the Senate’s version of SECURE 2.0.

Here’s what you can do to help make it a reality:

In this specific moment, contacting your Senators is of particular importance so The ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S331) gets into an upcoming bill – SECURE 2.0.

If you already have an ABLE account…

I recently wrote a story for The Penny Hoarder about ways residents of Pennsylvania and Mississippi could potentially use their ABLE account to make their rent and housing payments effectively deductible on their state taxes.

It also applies to some other states to varying degrees:

  • Arkansas
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Ohio
  • Virginia

If you live in any of those states, or are just a curious personal finance nerd, here’s where you can get all the details.

Are you getting your free COVID tests every month?

If you have health insurance, you should be able to get 8 free, at-home, rapid COVID tests per month from your local pharmacy.

Well, they’re technically not free. But they are billed to and covered by insurance. There should be no co-pay required; at least there hasn’t been in any of the cases I’ve encountered.

So while the tests may not be technically 100% free, they should be 100% free-to-you.

If you test positive with an at-home rapid test, ideally you’ll find a way to report your positive case to your local and/or state health agency. That helps community transmission data be more accurate, so we can all make more informed decisions.

Get COVID-19 funeral funding.

I don’t know how I made it this far through the pandemic without knowing about this particular program, but one of Kat Tretina‘s posts alerted me to it recently. Since it was new to me, I figured I should share it with you:

If you lost a loved one to COVID-19, or COVID was a contributing/co-occurring cause of their death, you can get up to $9,000 from FEMA to help cover the funeral and burial costs.

You can even go back and do this retroactively for deaths occurring on or after January 20, 2020.

And if you already used life insurance policy proceeds to fund the funeral? You may still be able to get that money back.

Right now I’m not seeing an expiration date on this program. But it would be great if Congress could pass more COVID funding for a plethora of reasons. I might not wait to apply for this, even if there’s not an end date currently issued.

We’ve watched so many of these programs shutter at this point; I can’t help but wonder how long it will last.

You can learn more through FEMA, though I also found this recent press release from Pennsylvania’s EMA to be fact-filled and helpful.

Intersectional Money Series

If you didn’t catch the latest installment of the Intersectional Finances Series, make sure you get caught up!

Another installment is in the works – make sure you’re subscribed to the email list so you won’t miss it once it’s live.

What do you want to see in April’s Money News update?

Having a money struggle you’d like to see tackled in next month’s update? Or just a nerdy PF question?

Leave it in the comments! If you’re a newsletter subscriber, another way to submit your question is to simply reply to the latest Femme Frugality email you received.

If I don’t know how to answer your question personally, I’ll find a qualified colleague who can.

Testimonials and/or tips about your money woes or wins through these past couple years are also welcome!

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