Just last month, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance approved two bills giving more flexibility to those who are already eligible for ABLE accounts. The ABLE to Work Act would allow people with disabilities who are employed to save additional money each year in their accounts while the ABLE Financial Planning Act would let money saved for an individual with a disability in a 529 college savings plan be rolled over into an ABLE account.
However, a third bill — raising the eligibility age to 46 — was left out of any discussions before the Senate committee. And that has many advocates feeling shortchanged.
“The limitation on eligibility based on age of onset of disability did not exist in the original legislation and was added at the end of the ABLE Act’s eight year legislative history with the understanding that Congress would act to restore the broader eligibility criteria,” reads letters signed by 82 disability advocacy groups that were sent this week to key lawmakers in the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.
The last-minute addition of the age criteria led many people who had championed the ABLE Act for years to be left out, said Chris Rodriguez, senior public policy advisor at the National Disability Institute and co-chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Task Force on Financial Security, which initiated the correspondence to lawmakers.
Groups that have pledged to oppose some ABLE bills include The Arc, the Autism Society, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the National Down Syndrome Congress, United Cerebral Palsy and others largely representing individuals who would easily meet the existing cutoff at age 26.