In 2014, people with disabilities celebrated passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, legislation that ensures people with disabilities can save funds to support their overall health, independence and quality of life, without losing any state or federal benefits. While the ABLE Act was a great step forward, the measure hasn’t gone far enough in supporting a larger population of people with disabilities.
Before the passage of the ABLE Act, people with disabilities throughout the U.S. faced the risk of losing Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if they saved more than $2,000. The ABLE Act ended that risk, giving people the ability to contribute a maximum amount of $15,000 yearly to their ABLE accounts. The ABLE Act exempts these savings from determining eligibility for Medicaid and SSI up to a maximum of $100,000.
ABLE Age Adjustment Act Supports Disability Community
A remaining downside of the ABLE Act, however, is the law’s age cap, which prevents people who acquire a disability after the age of 26 from using an ABLE savings account. The age was selected to minimize the impact on tax losses due to the tax advantages of the ABLE account.
The ABLE Age Adjustment Act, introduced in 2019 in the Senate by Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and in the House by Reps. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), is a bipartisan bill that would amend the ABLE Act, raising the age eligibility from 26 to 46. The ABLE Age Adjustment Act would significantly expand the legislation, empowering people with disabilities in a number of ways.
Passing the ABLE Age Adjustment Act would give even more people with disabilities the opportunity to save funds in a tax advantaged savings account that can support their overall independence, and help cover expenses, such as housing, transportation, employment and education. People with disabilities, including service members and veterans who develop disabilities later in life, would be able to set money aside for their futures. By increasing the age threshold, an estimated 14 million eligible people would be eligible to open and maintain ABLE accounts.
People with disabilities will benefit from ABLE Age Adjustment Act
With much uncertainty facing people with disabilities today—from continued threats of Medicaid cuts, to the federal government’s recent proposal to require proof of eligibility for social security and SSDI every two years—the passage of the ABLE Age Adjustment Act would be a win for the disability community. It would allow people who acquire a disability or have one diagnosed after the age of 26 to enhance their lives and the lives of their families with the opportunity to save money without risking loss of their Medicaid and Social Security benefits.