Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (H.R. 647/S.313)

 The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) of 2013 (S. 313/H.R. 647) was introduced in February 2013 in the 113th Congress (2013-2014 Congressional cycle).

Under current law, people with disabilities receiving federal benefits cannot have more than $2,000 in assets and must have a very low monthly income. The ABLE Act will give individuals with disabilities and their families the ability to save for their child’s future just like every other American family. The ABLE Act  will help people with disabilities live full, productive lives in their communities without losing benefits provided through private insurances, the Medicaid program, the supplemental security income program, the beneficiary’s employment, and other sources.

The account could fund a variety of essential expenses for individuals, including:

  • medical and dental care
  • education
  • community based supports
  • employment training
  • assistive technology
  • housing
  • transportation

The ABLE Act will utilize the 529 college education saving account program, in which thousands of Americans are already familiar. As with existing 529 accounts, contributions to ABLE accounts would grow tax free and would be easy and inexpensive to create. The ABLE Act provides individuals with disabilities the same types of flexible savings tools that all other Americans have through college savings accounts, health savings accounts, and individual retirement accounts.

The legislation also contains Medicaid fraud protection against abuse and a Medicaid pay-back provision when the beneficiary passes away. It will eliminate barriers to work and saving by preventing dollars saved through ABLE accounts from counting against an individual’s eligibility for any federal benefits program.

Congressional Champions

The ABLE Act has earned 28 cosponsors in the US Senate and 125 cosponsors in the US House and is being led by a bipartisan, bicameral set of Congressional champions, including: Senator Robert Casey, Jr., (D-PA) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX).

The legislation has been endorsed by more than 50 national organizations.  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.