ACTION ALERT: PASS THE ABLE AGE ADJUSTMENT ACT TO COVER MORE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AND HELP SUSTAIN ABLE PROGRAMS
We need to reach out to our legislators to ask them to support the ABLE Age Adjustment Act. The ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S. 817/HR 1874) would amend Section 529A(e) of the Internal Revenue Code to increase the eligibility threshold for ABLE accounts for onset of disability from prior to age 26 to prior to age 46 so that millions more people with disabilities can take advantage of this important savings tool. Without passage of the ABLE Age Adjustment Act to expand the pool of potential ABLE account owners, the nationwide ABLE program may face serious threats to sustainability.
Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts, created under the Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (PL 113-295) in December 2014, allows individuals with disabilities the opportunity to save resources in a tax-advantaged savings account (an ABLE account) for the purposes of covering disability-related expenses. The resources saved in an ABLE account are not considered "assets" for eligibility and benefits determinations for federally funded means tested benefits, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. Unfortunately, under the current law, many people with disabilities are excluded from this important savings tool.
First introduced in the 114th Congress, the bipartisan ABLE Age Adjustment Act was re-introduced in the 115th Congress by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Richard Burr (R-NC), and Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), and Jim Langevin (D-RI). The limitation on eligibility based on age of onset of disability did not exist in the original ABLE legislation, but was added at the end of the ABLE Act's nearly ten-year legislative history to reduce the bill's score and get it over the finish line. This concession resulted in otherwise-eligible individuals with disabilities - many of whom fought for years to get the ABLE Act passed - being prevented from realizing the benefits associated with the ABLE Act based solely on the age at which they became disabled. NDSC, along with nearly 160 other organizations from across the country, believes that ABLE should be expanded to include more people with disabilities, and has recently signed on to a letter urging Congress to pass this bill this session.
Beyond the fairness/equity argument for increasing the age of onset, it has now become a financial imperative to pass the ABLE Age Adjustment Act. There are currently thirty-seven states with ABLE programs, yet data collected by the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) shows that the number of ABLE accounts being opened is much lower than anticipated. The long-term sustainability, availability, and affordability of ABLE programs for individuals with disabilities are in doubt without this expansion of eligibility (See HERE for NAST Sustainability Report).
Please stand with people with disabilities and their families and cosponsor the bipartisan ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S. 817/ HR 1874). Expanding the age of onset is the right thing to do and will give more than 5 million additional people with disabilities access to this important savings tool that enables them to accumulate more than $2000 in assets without jeopardizing their benefits. Whether or not you are currently eligible for an ABLE account, we all have a stake in ensuring the success of ABLE programs so that they are sustainable and so that costs for all ABLE account owners are kept low.
Please contact your elected officials and ask them to cosponsor the ABLE Age Adjustment Act!
Thank you for your advocacy efforts!
The NDSC Policy & Advocacy Team
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