News that the ABLE Act (Achieving a Better Life Experience) was passed and signed into law has parents and caregivers relieved and hopeful for the financial future of their loved one with a disability. As we enjoy the festivities of the holiday season, many of us in the disabilities services industry are also celebrating this landmark bi-partisan decision.
ABLE will allow individuals with disabilities acquired prior to age 26 to have a tax-free savings account for qualified expenses such as education, housing and transportation, without affecting their eligibility for federal benefits programs for persons with disabilities. The individual or family and friends may contribute to the account up to $14,000 per year for a maximum of $100,000. Coverage for Medicaid is retained regardless of the amount of money deposited.
Prior to ABLE millions of persons with disabilities are under the constant threat of losing their SSI and Medicaid benefits due to the $2,000 per month bank account limits. Now an adult with a disability can work a full time job and have the freedom to develop an actual career without fear of the resulting income affecting their medical benefits. Some of the individuals have life long health challenges that necessitate constant medical care. Without the Medicaid those individuals would be facing possible life threatening situations. With the ability to earn the income that goes with their chosen field and keep their Medical benefits, these individuals will now be able to become financially self supported. This means a major change in their independence, feeling of self worth and contribution. This also means tax savings for everyone in the long run.
This is just one more victory in the battle to include the sometimes forgotten people that represent our largest minority.