Senators announce agreement on the ABLE Act

pile of hundred dollar bills

The Senate appears set to vote on a bill to create tax-free savings accounts for disability-related expenses when it returns in November after the midterm elections.

Under the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, individuals and families will be able to place up to $14,000 per year, up to a maximum of $100,000, in a separate tax-free account, similar to 529 college saving plans, according to Disability Scoop. This money would be set aside to budget for health care, education, housing and other disability-related expenses, while not jeopardizing the recipient’s eligibility for government benefit programs.

The bill unanimously passed a House committee in July, but the Senate Finance Committee has been in discussions regarding how the bill would be paid for.

In a brief, joint statement released September 19, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Bob Casey (D-Pa) and Richard Burr, (R-N.C.) announced that an agreement had been reached.

“Under the leadership of Senators Casey and Burr, the Senate has generated positive momentum on the ABLE Act,” the senators wrote in the statement. “Thanks to constructive and bipartisan dialogue, the bill sponsors, collaborating with Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch, have reached a policy agreement that will serve as the foundation for final passage.

“We are committed to working with our House colleagues to ensure this legislation will be passed in a bipartisan, bicameral manner and sent to the President’s desk in the lame duck session.”

The bill, first considered in 2006, is overwhelmingly popular. According to Autism Speaks, the Senate version of the bill. S. 313, has 74 cosponsors, and the House bill, H. 647, is cosponsored by 380 of the 435 representatives.

“Autism Speaks thanks the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee for committing to finalize this bill which will make such a critical difference in the lives of Americans with disabilities,” said Stuart Spielman, senior policy advisor and counsel with Autism Speaks, in the news release. “With rising poverty and high unemployment plaguing the disabilities community, ABLE sends a signal that individuals and families will be able to help themselves without suffering adverse consequences.

“We look forward to quick action when Congress returns so that the bill can get to President Obama and become law.”