12.17.14

Burr-Casey ABLE Act Passes Senate, Heads to the President’s Desk to Become Law

Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that the Senate has passed their Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. The bill will allow families who have a child with a disability to save for their long-term care through 529-style savings accounts. The ABLE Act passed the House last week with a final vote of 404-17. This legislation has been called "...the broadest legislation to help the disabled in nearly a quarter-century." 

"Some have called the ABLE Act the most significant piece of legislation affecting the disabled since passage of the American Disabilities Act nearly 25 years ago.  I got involved in this effort nearly 8 years ago with Senator Casey.  Families of severely disabled children came to us expressing the critical need for an easy way to save for their child's future expenses, especially since many Americans with Down Syndrome and autism are now outliving their parents," said Senator Burr. "Most middle-class families don't have the money to spend on lawyers and financial planners to set up sophisticated trusts to make sure that their disabled child will be OK long after they are gone.  What's worse current federal law actually discourages parents from putting any assets in the name of their disabled child in fear of disqualifying them from federal programs down the road. It's utterly unacceptable that our current laws doom a child born with a disability to a lifetime of poverty and dependence.  This is especially unfortunate when a parent or other family member has the resources and the desire to save and plan for that child's future expenses but are advised by lawyers and planners not to.  The ABLE Act will take the first critical step in ending this injustice."

"I could not be more proud of the support the ABLE Act has received from members of both parties in the House and Senate, and from all of the families who worked with us to achieve this historic goal," said Senator Casey. "From the beginning, the power of these families who want to save for their loved ones' long term care has propelled the ABLE Act forward. We believe that individuals across this country with disabilities have a lot of ability. I look forward to President Obama quickly signing this bill into law so that countless families and individuals can have the tools they need to live a full life and have a bright future." 

The ABLE Act would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code to allow use of tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The bill, first introduced in 2006, would ease financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities by making tax-free savings accounts available to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing, medical, and transportation. The bill would supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurance, the Medicaid program, the beneficiary's employment, and other sources.