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ABLE Act Reintroduced in New Congress

WASHINGTON, DC (February, 13, 2013) -- Bipartisan legislation that would enable families to create tax-free savings accounts, similar to college savings accounts, for their child with disabilities was reintroduced in both houses of Congress today. The new accounts would not jeopardize eligibility for Medicaid, Social Security, private insurance and other benefits.

Sponsored in the House by Representative Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) and in the Senate by Senator Bob Casey Jr (D-PA), the legislation is called the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act and is similar to bills in the last Congress that attracted a majority of House members and 40 Senators as co-sponsors. This year's bills already have 17 Senators (S.313)and 58 House members signed on as co-sponsors to HR.647.

"Autism Speaks is proud once again to work with our partners in the disabilities community to work for passage of this common sense legislation," said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president for programs and services. "As the number of children with autism 'aging out' to adulthood multiplies, our community's need to help prepare for their futures is more urgent than ever."

The ABLE Act would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code to permit the creation of tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities, such as autism. First introduced in 2006, the legislation is intended to ease the financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities by making tax-free savings available to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing, and transportation.

The bill does not replace, but rather supplements, benefits provided through private insurance, Medicaid, the supplemental social security income program, the beneficiary’s employment, and other sources. 

Autism Speaks is part of a coalition of 50 national and state disabilities organizations, including the National Down Syndrome Society and The Arc, that is once again supporting the legislation.

“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 Crenshaw in a joint statement with Casey. "Other Americans enjoy financial-planning tools that allow them to save for college and retirement, yet our tax code does not provide people with disabilities with the same option.

Casey said, "Parents of children with disabilities face daily struggles that we can’t even begin to imagine. This legislation will help make it easier for those families to save for their children’s care and for their future. The ABLE Act will provide families with the financial peace of mind they need, and Congress should pass it immediately.”