Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE)

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United States Senate approved the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) on December 17, 2014

A grassroots victory occurred late in the evening of December 17th  2014 in the US Senate. 77 Senators passed the ABLE ACT (Achieving a Better Life Experience Act). President Barack Obama has since signed the ABLE act into Law. Earlier on December 3rd, 388 members of the House of Representatives passed the same act which sent it to the Senate.

News on Autism: Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE)
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), the co sponsor of the ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act, is at the podium advocating the Senate to pass the bill after a bipartisan passage in the U.S House of Representatives. President Barack Obama signed into law the ABLE Act that would allow families with children having disabilities to be able to save for higher education and other expenses in accounts that are tax-deferred.

Two champions of the bill, Senator Bob Casey, Democrat from Pennsylvania, and Senator Richard Barr, Republican from North Carolina stated: “Some have called the ABLE Act the most significant piece of legislation affecting the disabled since passage of the American Disabilities Act nearly 25 years ago.”

What is Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) About?

Reminding everyone the passage of this bill means the years of research and providing information to the general public has paved the way for those with disabilities “to have a lot of abilities”. Post signing the law, each state will be able to implement the following for its citizens with disabilities:

  • People with disabilities will now be allowed to have bank savings accounts without affecting the amount of money they receive from the government in SSI and Medicaid payments. Family members can contribute to these savings accounts ensuring lifetime support for their family member. There is a $14,000 limit each year that can be put into savings with an overall cap of $100,000.
  • There will be a provision allowing the savings account to be rolled over into a family member’s account, especially if they too are disabled, should the person become deceased prior to the usage of the funds.
  • The funds must be spent on things related to the person’s disability. Some of the items include education, housing, transportation, person caregiver support, technology to assist the individual, health and medications and other related services.

Presently, under the current law, government support programs are cut off if the individual has more than $2000 in assets. In today’s world, $2000 does not extend very far and often keeps people with disabilities from independent living.

Autism Speaks and more than 100 other national autism organizations along with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) have wholeheartedly supported the passage of this bill. This new law will ease the financial strain on families with a family member with a disability.

This is such a huge step forward in giving people with disabilities freedom to live their lives individually. Sadly, the man who conceived this idea/bill did not live long enough to see it become a reality. Steve Beck of Burke, Virginia worked tirelessly to pass this legislation. It is a fitting tribute to the memory of Steve Beck to have this law passed. Steve Beck died suddenly at the age of 44 last week just prior to the law’s passage. Mr. Beck leaves behind a wife and two daughters, one of whom, Natalie, has a disability.

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