Congress May Consider Tweaks To ABLE Accounts
Federal lawmakers are already looking to expand the eligibility and capabilities of a new type of savings account for people with disabilities.
A package of three bills introduced this month in Congress would offer extra flexibility to individuals with disabilities using accounts created under the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act.
The savings vehicle established under federal law in 2014 will for the first time allow those with disabilities to save up to $100,000 without jeopardizing Social Security and other government benefits. Medicaid eligibility will not be affected by any level of funds accrued in the accounts.
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Currently, states are working to establish regulations and implement the new offering and ABLE accounts are expected to start becoming available sometime this year.
Even before the first accounts are opened, however, the bipartisan group of lawmakers responsible for the ABLE Act is working to tweak the new program.
Under the latest proposals, people with disabilities who are employed would be able to allocate extra money each year to their ABLE account. Beyond the existing annual cap of $14,000, those who are working could also deposit their earnings up to the federal poverty level – currently $11,770 for a single person.
In addition, eligibility for the accounts would be expanded to include people with disabilities that onset by the age of 46, an increase over the current requirement that conditions must exist prior to age 26.
Finally, the lawmakers want to allow families to be able to rollover money they’ve saved for an individual with a disability in a 529 college savings plan to an ABLE account.
“The ABLE Act broke through the glass ceiling for thousands of individuals with disabilities by giving them the ability to plan and save for their futures,” said U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, a sponsor of the bills. “While the ABLE Act was a critical first step, today’s package will bolster our efforts and strengthen the law to ensure individuals with disabilities, like my son, Alex, have the opportunities they need and deserve to achieve a bigger, brighter future.”
The bills known as the The ABLE to Work Act, The ABLE Financial Planning Act and The ABLE Age Adjustment Act are sponsored by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., in the Senate and Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., in addition to Sessions in the House of Representatives.