11.20.13

Senators Burr, Casey, and Fellow Supporters Urge Passage of ABLE Act

With more than half of the United States Congress supporting the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act - S. 313/H.R. 647), U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Robert Casey (D-PA), and a bipartisan, bicameral group of bill co-sponsors and supporters called on Congress to pass the ABLE Act and provide an improved quality of life for individuals with disabilities through tax-free savings accounts.

Introduced in the 113th Congress in February, the ABLE Act has earned 50 Senate co-sponsors, 305 House co-sponsors, and is backed by more than 50 local, state, and national disability advocacy groups, including the National Down Syndrome Society, Autism Speaks, and The Arc.

Burr, the lead Republican sponsor in the Senate, said: "The ABLE Act is a commonsense piece of legislation that provides individuals with disabilities and their families with the resources to plan for a sound financial future while continuing to improve the quality of their lives today. I am pleased to see such overwhelming bipartisan, bicameral support for this important bill and look forward to its consideration in the Senate."

Casey, the lead Democratic sponsor in the Senate, said: "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. They deserve some assurance that they will be able to adequately plan for expenses. "

Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) said: "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. "

Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) said: "The support we've seen in the 113th Congress for the ABLE Act is encouraging, and I will continue to work with my colleagues on moving this important legislation forward. As the father of a young man with Down syndrome, I am committed to finding ways to enhance the quality of life and maximize the potential for all individuals with disabilities. I strongly believe that allowing families to form tax-free savings accounts to cover certain expenses like education and housing will create a brighter future for our loved ones with disabilities."

Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said: "With 305 Members of the House of Representatives co-sponsoring the bipartisan ABLE Act, the time for action is now. This legislation will give people with disabilities and their families the opportunity to take charge of their own lives and their futures. We live in a nation where everyone has the right to reach for their full potential. The ABLE Act is a commonsense step forward for these hardworking Americans."

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodger (R-WA) said: "As the mom of a son with Down syndrome, I know that too often, federal policies limit those with disabilities and make them dependent on the government. When my son Cole was born, my husband and I were advised not to put any assets in Cole's name because it would penalize him if he needed to qualify for a government program someday. There are millions of other parents in the same situation - parents who would like to help their children improve their quality of life without jeopardizing their access to benefits. That's why we must pass the ABLE Act. This commonsense bill would allow parents to save for their children's future and give kids with disabilities a chance to live the American Dream. I hope Congress acts swiftly to pass this legislation and get it to the President's desk."

Sara Weir, National Down Syndrome Society Vice President of Advocacy & Affiliate Relations, said: "There is no other bill in the U.S. Congress that has as much bipartisan, bicameral support as the ABLE Act. People with disabilities can't wait any longer for the passage of the ABLE Act. Passing this landmark legislation will go a long way to help people with Down syndrome and other disabilities realize and achieve their own hopes, dreams, and aspirations."

Stuart Spielman, Senior Policy Advisory and Counsel for Autism Speaks, said: "In the next 10 years, a half-million children with autism will age into adulthood. The staggering level of housing, transportation, and other support services that will be required for this population demand common sense solutions such as ABLE."

Marty Ford, Senior Executive Officer, Public Policy, The Arc, said: "The Arc has long supported the ABLE Act, and we will continue to stand behind this important piece of legislation until it is finally passed. This bill will give individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families a planning tool that can guide their path to financial security. Most importantly, it does so without jeopardizing their access to other necessary services provided by federal programs. With more than half of Congress supporting this bill, we are hopeful that the 113th Congress will pass the ABLE Act so that people with disabilities and their families can begin using this important tool."

The legislation would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code to 1986 to create 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.