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Federal legislation would help disabled people to save money

Advocates for people with disabilities are renewing their push for a federal law that would allow people with disabilities or their families to open a special savings account to pay for some long-term expenses. The bill is called the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, or ABLE, and it would be similar to the 529 program, which allows families to save for college education.

The bill is aimed at the poverty problem faced by some with life-long disabilities. To be eligible for many benefits, including Medicaid, people can have just $2,000 in assets and earn less than $700 per month. As a result, parents of disabled children are instructed not to put assets in their child’s name because it can make them ineligible for benefits. But the benefits available, including Supplemental Security Income and medical coverage, don’t cover all expenses. The ABLE Act would allow people to put aside money for expenses such as a job coach, transportation or housing.

 

In fact, it would do more than that, the vice president of advocacy for the National Down Syndrome Society told the Washington Post. People with disabilities such as Down syndrome would better be able to live more independently with the benefit of such a law, she says.

Advocates rallied in favor of the act in Washington, D.C., late last month. The vice president of advocacy says the bill has seen several versions during eight years of work. She hopes to find success this year.

Source: Washington Post, “How the proposed ABLE Act will help parents of children with disabilities,” Mari-Jane Williams, March 6, 2014

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