Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) along with a group of bipartisan co-sponsors and disability advocates, highlighted growing support for the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act) at a Capitol Hill press conference. The bipartisan legislation - with over 100 House and Senate co-sponsors - aims to create an improved quality of life for individuals with disabilities through tax-free savings accounts.
"Parents of children with disabilities face daily struggles that we can't even begin to imagine," said Senator Casey. "This legislation will help make it easier for those families to save for their children's care and for their future. The ABLE Act will provide families with the financial peace of mind they need, and Congress should pass it immediately."
Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) stated, "We stand together - members of the House, Senate, and advocacy groups - with hands joined in a push to provide economic peace of mind and fairness to individuals with disabilities. ABLE would not be where it is today, enjoying record bicameral and bipartisan support, without the tireless dedication of disability advocates and those who stand firm in our central message of equality. Individuals with disabilities deserve access to IRS-sanctioned tools to lay the groundwork for a brighter future. That's an accomplishment we all can be proud of and one we will reach together."
Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) stated, "I will continue to work with my colleagues on moving this common-sense legislation forward in the 113th Congress. As the proud father of a young man with Down syndrome, I understand the importance of securing a sound financial future for our loved ones with disabilities and strongly believe that we should allow families to form tax-free savings accounts in order to plan for their future. I am committed to finding ways to enhance the quality of life and maximize the potential for all individuals with disabilities."
Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) stated, "We live in a nation where everyone has the right to reach for their full potential. The ABLE Act will give people with disabilities and their families, in Maryland and across the country, the opportunity to take charge of their own lives and their futures. I'm so proud to gather today with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle, as well as tireless advocates, to fight for legislation based on the ideals that make America great."
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) stated, "As the mother of a son with Down syndrome and Co-Chair of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus, I am committed to enacting policies that give those with disabilities the freedom to live independently. That's why the ABLE Act is so important: it will help children improve the quality of their lives without jeopardizing their access to benefits. This common-sense bill will allow parents to save for their children's future and give kids with disabilities an opportunity to live the American Dream. I'm proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bring this legislation to the floor and have the President sign it into law as soon as possible."
Steve Beck, NDSS Board Member, stated, "There is no other bill in the US Congress that has as much bipartisan, bicameral support than the ABLE Act. It is time that Congress enacts into law the ABLE Act. Passing this landmark legislation will go a long way to help people with Down syndrome and other disabilities realize and achieve their own hopes, dreams, and aspirations."
Stuart Spielman, senior policy advisor and counsel for Autism Speaks, stated, "As the autism community in America grows exponentially, so does our need for ABLE. Countless thousands of children diagnosed with autism will be aging into adulthood in the years ahead and will require the financial support and security ABLE savings accounts can provide."
Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc, stated, "The Arc has long supported the ABLE Act, and will continue to do so until this important piece of legislation is finally passed. This bill would create another financial planning tool for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families to plan for their futures. We could not be more thankful for the hundreds of Senators and Representatives who have co-sponsored the ABLE Act and continue to stand up for individuals with disabilities."
Introduced in the 113th Congress on February 13, the ABLE Act would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The bill, first introduced in 2006, would ease financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities by making 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. To date, the legislation has earned 80 House co-sponsors and 25 Senate co-sponsors and is backed by more at least 50 local, state, and national disability advocacy groups, including the National Down Syndrome Society, The Arc, and Autism Speaks.