I have made a daily habit of reading the Autism Speaks blog, and was so heartened to recently read this post, and happy to write about it. On December 19th President Obama signed the ABLE Act (Achieving a Better Life Experience) into law, thus finalizing an eight-year campaign by congressmen and advocates alike to establish tax-free savings accounts to help individuals and families pay for their long-term needs. This will enable families to plan for what often seems like an uncertain future for their children with disabilities, and will make that planning just a little bit easier.
And as I think of my eleven-year-old who will definitely require life-time care, the passage of this act into law helps lift some of the fear of how we’ll care for him during the decades he won’t be with us.
The bill garnered bi-partisan support, and came to fruition due to the efforts of Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. Senators Ron Wyden and Orrin Hatch played vital roles as well.
The ABLE act permits tax-free savings accounts to help pay for disability-related needs. The law eliminates the current $2,000 cap on savings for disabled individuals. Prior to the ABLE law if disabled individuals had more than $2,000 in their savings accounts they were at risk for losing their SSI (Supplemental Security Income,) as well as Medicaid. Under the new law funds saved would have to be used for disability-related needs.
Families of individuals with disabilities and disabled individuals themselves can now save for such things as education, housing, transportation, health issues, and other expenses as well.
I will share with all of you that thinking about Justin’s adulthood, particularly when his father and I are no longer here, is the most daunting aspect of his autism to me. The passing of the ABLE Act makes me breathe just a little easier.
My hope is that for anyone who didn’t know about its passage and reads about it for the first time here today, that the knowledge that it’s now out there will do the same for you as well.
Here is a link to what Shannon Knall, CT Autism Speaks Policy Chair and autism advocate has to say about the passing of the ABLE Act on the Autism Speaks blog:
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