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Congress Reconsiders ABLE Act for Children with Disabilities

ABLE Act, Autism, Children with disabilities, Congress

Sponsored by House of Representative Ander Crenshaw of Florida and Senator Bob Casey Jr of Pennsylvania, both houses of Congress will begin to reconsider passing legislation known as the “Achieving a Better Life Experience” Act, or ABLE. This piece of legislation is supported by many national organizations including Autism Speaks, the National Disability Institute, and the National Down Syndrome Society.

Per Congressman Crenshaw, individuals with disabilities face enormous financial struggles, yet do not have the same financial planning tools as other Americans, such as a tax-deferred savings account to plan for college or retirement. First introduced back in 2006, the ABLE Act (HR.3423/S.1872) aims to ease financial strains by amending Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code and make such tax-free savings account available to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing and transportation.

The bill would not jeopardize eligibility for Medicaid, Social Security, private insurance or other benefits.

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ABLE is supported by 189 House co-sponsors and 26 Senate co-sponsors and backed by 50 national and state disability organizations. Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president for programs and services says, “Autism Speaks is proud once again to work with our partners in the disabilities community to work for passage of this common sense legislation.”

Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc, a community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, said, “"The ABLE Act is about giving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to achieve their dreams. Families are looking for ways to finance things like an apartment, or a ride to work, or additional educational opportunities after high school that don't jeopardize other necessary services provided by federal programs. This bill creates a tool for families that could lead to a more independent and fulfilling life."

“We stand together - House, Senate, and advocacy groups - with hands joined in a push to provide economic peace of mind and fairness to individuals with disabilities," said Rep. Crenshaw in a joint statement with Senator Casey.

Autism Speaks
Representative Ander Crenshaw