People with disabilities and their caregivers will be able to create tax-free savings accounts specifically for disability related expenses, under a new bill signed by President Barack Obama on December 19.
The Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act has long been one of the signature goals of the disability rights movement. The bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow people to put up to $14,000 per year, up to a maximum of $100,000, into a special savings account for education, health, transportation and other disability related expenses. Funds in these accounts will not be included in determining eligibility for means-tested federal benefit programs such Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.
The bill was recently renamed in honor of Beck, a former member of the National Down Syndrome Society and longtime advocate who died unexpectedly earlier this month.
“Eight years ago, a group of parents came to Congress, asking for help with a pressing issue—adequately saving for their children’s future,” Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) said in a news release. “These parents, including a gentleman named Steve Beck, knew firsthand the challenges many families face when a loved one has a disability.
“Faced with a lifetime of extraordinary expenses, parents are told not to save or put assets in their child’s name. Thanks to Steve and countless other concerned parents, we stand ready to forever change this dynamic.”
The House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 404-17 on December 3. The Senate followed suit, by a vote of 76-16, on December 16.
“The ABLE Act proves that people with disabilities and their families can make a difference. We fought long and hard to make the ABLE Act a reality for all people with Down syndrome and their families in this country,” NDSS President Sara Weir said in a news release. “This landmark legislation puts a stake in the ground that people with disabilities, for the first time ever, can work and save money for the future.”