Support for passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act) reached its highest point ever this week - 207 U.S. House co-sponsors.
Together with 30 U.S. Senate co-sponsors and nearly 50 national, state, and local disability advocacy organizations, this group clearly understands the need to provide individuals with disabilities with tax-free savings accounts. But, we can't let the momentum slow down.
There is no more time to waste in opening the door to economic peace of mind to 54 million individuals with disabilities across this nation. It's a question of fairness and equality, and passage of this bill is long overdue.
On November 15, 2011, I introduced the ABLE Act with Senator Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA) and key Congressional supporters and haven't looked back since. It was a great day where so many gathered to underscore the need for this ground-breaking legislation.
The story of people like Pennsylvania resident and National Down Syndrome Society Board Member Sara Wolff perhaps best described a void that needed to be filled so more dreams could be achieved.
With the dome of the United States Capitol in the background, Sara told the group that had gathered that day outside what the bill meant to her.
"When I graduated from High School, I wanted to go to college, but didn't have the financial resources to do so, however this didn't stop me. I took one course at a time and so far have earned 15 credits. By the way, I just paid off my college loan. The ABLE Act would give individuals like me and our families an option to save for our future financial needs in a way that supports our unique situation and makes it possible for us to live full, productive lives in our community.
"This bill allows me to do all the same things everyone else gets to do Save for my future!"
I'm with Sara. She should have the same access to tax-free savings account to plan for her future as other Americans do. But individuals with disabilities are not afforded education savings accounts like 529 accounts and other similar financial planning tools.
The ABLE Act is federal legislation designed to ease the financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities. Its provisions would amend the U.S. tax code to make tax-free savings accounts available to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing, and transportation. The bill would supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurances, the Medicaid program, the supplemental security income program, the beneficiary's employment, and other sources.
No longer would individuals with disabilities have to stand by and watch others use Internal Revenue Service-sanctioned tools to lay the groundwork for a brighter future. The ABLE Act would provide them with new freedom for a brighter future.
It's the right thing to do. It' fair, and it's why I will fight on for this bill's passage.