Today, on the 33rd anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, introduced new legislation to expand access to the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) program. The ABLE MATCH (Making ABLE A Tool to Combat Hardship) Act removes some of the financial barriers low-income Americans with disabilities face when enrolling in the ABLE program, which allows people with disabilities to save more than the $2,000 asset limit required in many federal assistance programs and was initially created in 2014 by Senator Casey’s ABLE Act.
“Over the last nine years, the ABLE program has been a lifeline for thousands of people with disabilities across the Nation,” said Chairman Casey. “However, there are still too many people whose lives would be made easier by the program, but don’t have sufficient funds to open an account. The ABLE MATCH Act will make it easier for low-income people with disabilities to access the ABLE program, and get the benefits they need and deserve.”
People with disabilities are more than twice as likely to live in poverty compared to people without disabilities, yet households including a person with a work-limiting disability need, on average, 28 percent more income to obtain the same standard of living as people without disabilities. For a long time, this intersection of disability and poverty was made worse by asset limitations for federal assistance programs that many people with disabilities rely on. The ABLE program has provided a work around this problem for more than 144,000 people with disabilities across the United States, who have saved an average of $9,715.
However, currently many people with lower incomes are discouraged from opening ABLE accounts because they do not have sufficient funds. The ABLE MATCH Act helps people with lower incomes participate in the ABLE program by creating a federal dollar-for-dollar match for new and existing ABLE accounts held by individuals that make $28,000 annually or less. The match then tapers off for each dollar a person earns over $28,000. This figure is also indexed to inflation and adjusted for heads of household and married couples. The ABLE MATCH Act will reward low-income people with disabilities for saving money for their disability expenses and health needs. This addition to ABLE program will help boost enrollment and improve the financial health of people with disabilities with lower incomes.
As the lead sponsor of the ABLE Act, passed in 2014, Senator Casey has long been a champion of ABLE accounts. He introduced the ABLE Age Adjustment Act to extend the eligibility of ABLE accounts from those who acquired their disability before the age of 26 to the age of 46. At an Aging Committee field hearing in August 2022, Senator Casey uplifted the success of the ABLE program and pushed for his bill to expand the program to 6.2 million additional Americans, including more than one million veterans. Senator Casey’s bill passed in December 2022 and takes effect in 2026.
Read more about the ABLE MATCH Act here.