This week, the House will vote on a great bipartisan bill that will help many families. It is H.R. 647, the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act. Known for short as the ABLE Act, this bill allows people with disabilities to establish savings accounts for both daily and long-term expenses. Interest earned on these savings would be tax-free, much like 529 college savings accounts.
Under the status quo, which dates back to 1974, people with disabilities can only save $2,000 in assets. This makes it nearly impossible for them to plan for the future just as any family would.
“The ABLE Act is so much more to people with Down Syndrome and other disabilities than just a savings account,” Sara Wolff, a woman with Down Syndrome, said earlier this year. “It puts a stake in the ground so people can live independently, work, go to college. It’s time to move into the 21st century and allow individuals with disabilities to be self-determined, and not let these laws hold them back.”
Introduced by Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), the ABLE Act has overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and the Senate:
“With 381 House and 74 Senate sponsors … the ABLE Act boasts 85% of Congress as a co-sponsor. … Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., is a co-sponsor, and her son Cole, 7, who was born with Down syndrome, would qualify for an ABLE account. ‘Cole has helped me understand how too many times federal policies limit — not expand — opportunities for those with disabilities,” she said. ‘A vote on the ABLE Act brings us another step closer to empowering people with disabilities to reach their full potential.’”
The ABLE Act also has the backing of a number of grassroots organizations. Bob Wright, the co-founder of Autism Speaks, says, “Families are looking for ways to finance things like an apartment, or a ride to work, or additional educational opportunities after high school that don’t jeopardize other necessary services provided by federal programs. This bill creates a tool for families that could lead to a more independent and fulfilling life.”