The U.S. Senate has passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) -- a victory for grassroots advocacy for parents and people with disabilities. The Autism Society has worked with many partners in the disability community and with you, our members, to get this bill passed.
The ABLE Act allows for savings accounts for individuals with disabilities for certain expenses, like education, housing, and transportation, without jeopardizing certain important federal benefits such as SSI and Medicaid. The funds saved in these accounts, if managed correctly, can be another tool in planning for the lifetime support needs of an individual with disabilities. Up to $14,000 a year can be put in an ABLE account, with a cap of $100,000.
The bill must now be signed by the President to become law. Once the law is implemented in each state, the ABLE Act will allow the following:
1. Enable people with disabilities or family members to put up to $14,000 per year in the account, up to $100,000 total amount.
2. ABLE accounts could generally be rolled over only into another ABLE account for the same individual or into an ABLE account for a sibling who is also an eligible individual.
3. The funds must be spent on qualified expenses related to the individual's disability, such as health, education, housing, transportation, training, assistive technology, personal support, and related services and expenses.
Sadly, the man who conceived and worked tirelessly to pass the legislation, Steve Beck of Burke, Virginia, died suddenly last week. Steve was 44 years old and the parent of two daughters, including Natalie who had a disability. Steve, along with a group of parents around his kitchen table, conceived the idea of a savings account for his daughter, similar to the 529 account used for college savings. The passage of this Act is a wonderful tribute to the memory of Steve Beck.
As the process to open accounts for our family members with autism develops, we will keep our members informed as to next steps. See autism-society.org for more information.