Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, Jerry Moran (R-KS), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) introduced a bipartisan bill that would expand access to savings accounts that allow people with disabilities to save money. The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Age Adjustment Act would increase program eligibility and allow people who have acquired a disability before age 46 to open ABLE accounts.
“People with disabilities are less likely to be employed, more likely to be underemployed and are twice as likely to live in poverty as compared to their working-age peers. With fewer opportunities to earn income and significant penalties that prevent saving, people with disabilities and their families are often in difficult financial situations,” said Senator Casey. “The ABLE Age Adjustment Act would help more than 1 million veterans with disabilities become eligible to open ABLE accounts and help all people who acquire disabilities between 26 and 46 years of age to achieve financial independence and economic stability.”
“The savings plans created through the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act have provided Americans with disabilities better options to plan for their future without burdensome barriers that often exist within federal entitlement programs,” said Senator Moran. “However, there is still more to be done. While this program has already seen great success, ABLE savings accounts are currently available only to those who acquire their disability prior to their 26th birthday, leaving out millions – including veterans – who would otherwise qualify. I am pleased to continue our bipartisan work by introducing the ABLE Age Adjustment Act, which will expand the age of eligibility and help sustain this program on a long-term basis.”
“Since the passage of the ABLE Act, families across the country have benefitted from the opportunity to better plan for the future of their disabled loved ones. This legislation will build on the foundation of the ABLE Act and expand access to these accounts to more families,” said Senator Van Hollen. “I'm proud to work with advocates from the disability community to make this important improvement to the ABLE Act and strengthen the ability of thousands of Maryland residents to live independent and meaningful lives.”
“Families with disabled individuals carry an uphill financial burden,” said Senator Roberts. “Our bill will help these families facing long-term concerns about the well-being of their disabled loved-ones by making tax-free savings accounts covering qualified expenses such as education, housing and transportation available to more individuals in need.”
Sen. Casey’s ABLE Act, which was supported by Sens. Moran, Van Hollen and Roberts, and was signed into law in 2014. The ABLE Act made it possible for states to pass legislation that allows people with disabilities, under age 26, to open tax-free savings accounts. The ABLE Act helps people with disabilities and their families save money that can be used to cover qualifying expenses, such as health care or education, without the risk of losing federal disability benefits such as Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid.
Last Congress, Sen. Casey held an Aging Committee hearing entitled, Supporting Economic Stability and Self-Sufficiency as Americans with Disabilities and their Families Age, during which he highlighted how the ABLE program has benefitted Pennsylvanians. According to the National Association of Treasurers, 34,707 ABLE accounts have been opened nationwide and more than $171 million has been invested in these accounts.