07 Oct Can I shield my fantasy sports gambling winnings from SSI?
Q. I have been receiving SSI of $500 per month for more than 10years. I just won about $10,000 playing daily fantasy sports. Can I contribute all the winning to my Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) account so it doesn’t affect my SSI benefits?
— Lucky for once
A. Congratulations on your win.
And yes, you should take action to protect both your winnings and your SSI benefits.
Gambling winnings are considered unearned income by SSI and can be contributed to an ABLE account, said Martisha Patterson, a certified financial planner with Peapack Private Wealth Management in Morristown.
She said eligibility for SSI benefits is determined monthly.
“Recipients are required to report all changes to income or access to resources as they occur, subject to SSA deadlines,” she said. “The funds are subject to means testing, potentially reducing or eliminating SSI benefits for a time determined by the SSA.”
Patterson said unlike the IRS, the Social Security Administration does not subtract gambling losses to determine a net unearned income figure to report. The first $60 of unearned income is excluded from means testing, she said.
“The SSI recipient is required to report any change in circumstance to the Social Security Administration by the 10th day of the month after the month in which the change occurs,” she said. “If a change is left unreported, the recipient is subject to an overpayment charge, due within 30 days of when total overpayment amount is determined.”
It may be possible to work out other means to remit overpayments versus a lump sum payment due within 30 days, she said.
Now, ABLE accounts.
These are tax-advantaged savings and investment accounts for individuals with disabilities, created after the passage of the Stephen Beck Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014, better known as the ABLE Act.
Subject to certain qualifying criteria, the act allows parents of disabled children, and disabled adults, to save money in their child’s, or if an adult, in their own name, while not losing essential benefits they may be entitled to, Patterson said.
Distributions are tax free, if the funds are used for qualified disability expenses related to transportation, health care, housing, education, retirement and more, she said.
“Unearned income can be contributed to an ABLE account,” she said. “Any contributions from the gambling winnings must account for the maximum amount into the account.”
Account owners who work can contribute an additional amount equal to either their gross income for the taxable year, or $12,760, whichever is smaller, above the annual limit of $15,000 from all sources, Patterson said. If working, the limit would also include any employer contributions to the account, which is taxable income to the account owner, she said.
Account owners who do not work can make a total contribution, from all sources, of up to $15,000 per year, she said.
“The total value of the ABLE account — any amount over $100,000 is subject to the SSI income/resource limits, which may lead to a reduction or suspension of benefits,” she said.
Because the rules can be complex, consult with a tax professional before you make any moves.
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This story was originally published on Oct. 7, 2021.
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