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New Rules for ABLE Account Beneficiaries in 2019

The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act was signed into law in 2014 by President Obama to provide better financial footing for certain people with special needs. It allows qualified disabled people and/or their families to create a special, tax-advantaged ABLE savings account without impacting their eligibility for needs-based government benefits like Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid.

Contribution cannot exceed $15,000 per year, a rule that remains the same in 2019. However, the IRS has made a few updates to its rules regarding how people may contribute to ABLE accounts. Below is a breakdown of what’s new.

Changes to ABLE Accounts in 2019

  • Contributions may now include any contributions from a section 529 program and count toward the $15,000 limit. This new rule is beneficial to families who have a 529 savings plan but would like to use those funds for other expenses.
  • Employed disabled individuals can contribute their income and wages into their ABLE account up to $12,140 each year, as long as they do not have a retirement plan available to which their employer would contribute.
  • Contributions to an ABLE account are included in the IRS’s Saver Credit. For low-income to moderate-income earners, contributions to an ABLE account may qualify individuals for a tax credit of up to $2,000.

By law, all distributions from an ABLE account must be used exclusively for qualified expenses like higher education, a primary residence, transportation, employment costs, and other appropriate health and wellness expenditures. Each state has its own rules regarding ABLE accounts, such as:

  • Whether it offers enrollment to out of state residents,
  • The initial minimum contribution requirement to open an ABLE account,
  • Fees or restrictions to the number of disbursement you are allowed, and much more.

Click here to learn more about ABLE accounts in your state, and feel free to comment below with any questions.

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Explaining the Legal Theory of Respondeat Superior in Virginia Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Law

Respondeat superior is a centuries-old legal theory that allows an injury victim to hold an employer responsible for the harmful actions of its employee. The Latin phrase translates as “Let the master answer,” and its use is well-established in Virginia personal injury and wrongful death law.

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Technically, respondeat superior is a form of vicarious liability. The employer bears responsibility for the actions of its employee even though the employer did not instruct nor cause the employee to injure or kill another person.

pxhere, https://pxhere.com/en/photo/766921The concept flows directly from the obvious fact that an employer equips and empowers an employee to act on its behalf; that is, the employee becomes an agent of the employer. When actions taken for the benefit of the employer inflict harm, it is not really any different, in a legal sense, than if the employer had acted directly.

A large body of Virginia case law establishes rules for when a personal injury or wrongful death attorney can invoke respondeat superior on behalf of a client, The three basic tests are

  • Does an employer-employee relationship exist?
  • Was the employee conducting employer business at the time the injury or death occurred?
  • Was the employee acting within the scope of his or her work-related duties?

The accident victim’s lawyer must be able to answer each of these questions with a yes. Defendant employers will often contest the third point, arguing that the employee took unauthorized actions. Generally, courts will agree that anything an employee did in the interest of an employer was within the scope of employment even if a specific action is not in the employee’s job description.

Another defense that an employer may try involves claiming that the person who inflicted injuries or caused a death was not really an employee. Employers cannot be held vicariously liable for the negligence or recklessness of a contractor.

The tests Virginia courts use to determine whether a person is an employee include

  • Does the employee pay the person through its regular payroll?
  • Can the employer fire the person?
  • Does the employer provide the person with a location for work and all the materials to do his or her job?

Finding answers to questions like these can require going before a civil trial jury. As Virginia personal injury and wrongful death attorneys, my colleagues and I have done this in cases involving

EJL

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