Washington, D.C. (December 17, 2014)- Yesterday the U.S. Senate joined the House of Representatives in passing the bipartisan ABLE Act. The Bill will allow certain people with disabilities to establish tax-free savings accounts without fear of losing government benefits like Medicaid or Social Security. Many disability rights organizations, including the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) support the measure, which President Obama is expected to sign into law.
“The ABLE Act unlocks the doors of financial freedom for many Americans with disabilities,” said Mark Perriello, President and CEO of AAPD. “President Obama should move swiftly to sign this legislation, so people with disabilities can start saving for their future.”
The bill begins to address a longstanding dilemma faced by many people with disabilities that rely on Social Security Act programs like Medicaid. For all intents and purposes, people receiving government services and supports must live in poverty in order to continue to receive benefits. The ABLE Act will allow individuals to save $14,000 per a year and $100,000 total without the risk of losing their government provided services and supports. It will be up to each state to decide whether or not to offer ABLE Accounts and what those accounts will look like, which means the options for people with disabilities will differ from state to state.
While some disability advocates believed the bill wasn’t far reaching enough, AAPD and others lobbied for passage. The AAPD Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition sent a letter to the Senate last week urging a vote. The Coalition represents 33 national religious organizations including representatives from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh traditions.
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The American Association of People with Disabilities is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities.