The ABLE Act (HR.647 and S.313) yesterday had majority support in both chambers as the 51st senator became cosponsor (counting prime sponsor Robert Casey (D-PA)). As of this morning, it had 310 in the House (including prime sponsor Ander Crenshaw R-FL)). A number of lawmakers agreed to cosponsor when they met with advocates during last week's Autism Speaks to Washington summit. Autism Speaks provides the full list here.
Many families have been searching for a way to plan for the future of a child with severe disabilities. While they are able to save for the educational needs of their other children through “529” college tuition plans, they find those plans do not fit the needs of their child with severe disabilities, since their children may now, or in adulthood, need the long term services and supports of the Medicaid program and the income assistance of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Some families have found it too expensive to establish a trust which meets the requirements of the Medicaid and SSI programs, yet they recognize that their loved ones may live for many decades beyond the ability of the parents to supplement the services they receive through Medicaid. Others want to ensure the financial security of family members who have the level of disability required for Medicaid eligibility, but for now, are managing to function without the use of those benefits. Still others want to ensure that their family member can exercise control over the funds in the account without endangering the Medicaid and SSI benefits on which they may rely. The ABLE Act (S.313 / H.R.647) would give individuals with disabilities and their families access to accounts that would allow individual choice and control while protecting eligibility for Medicaid, SSI, and other important federal benefits for people with disabilities.
Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), chairman of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, stated, “Support for tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities stands at its highest level ever - testament to the tireless dedication of those who believe that ALL Americans deserve equality when it comes to financial planning tools. It’s time to pass this legislation and create a brighter future for those in need. ”
Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) stated, “The ABLE Act is commonsense bipartisan legislation that will help make it easier for those families to save for their children’s future care, and we should pass it immediately. Individuals with disabilities and their families face challenges many of us can’t even begin to imagine.