In a Congress distinguished by its capacity for gridlock, the vote on a bill to help people with disabilities to save for their future was noteworthy, if not shocking.
The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act passed the Senate on Dec. 17 as part of a bigger tax package by the margin of 76 to 16. Earlier this month, the bill overwhelmingly passed the often-fractious House of Representatives, 404-17.
What it does
The ABLE Act helps the families of people with disabilities save for health care costs, housing, lifelong education, and other needs. Under current law, a child diagnosed with a disability can’t have assets worth more than $2,000 or earn more than $680 per month without forfeiting eligibility for government programs like Medicaid. The ABLE Act would allow a tax-free savings account up to $100,000 to pay for disability-related expenses.
The aim of the ABLE Act is to remove bureaucratic obstacles to help Americans save their own money to help pay for long-term care. To some activists, it could provide a template for reforming Medicare and Social Security in the next Congress.
The legislation follows on the historic Workforce Investment and Opportunities Act, which also passed recently and was already signed into law.
Additionally, Rule 503 will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. Under this rule, federal contractors will be asked to be inclusive employers of people with disabilities in new and better ways, according to Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility. “The Association of Building Contractors (ABC) sued to fight Rule 503. However, several disability organizations filed amicus briefs in the litigation, supporting the measure. The court system’s decision is clearly a victory for inclusion and equality.”
Sources: RespectAbility, Christian Science Monitor.
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Contact Jenny Levet: firstname.lastname@example.org.