WASHINGTON, DC (November 15, 2012) – The nation's leading disability organizations, including Autism Speaks, joined today with Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) and Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) at a Capitol Hill event to urge the lame duck Congress to approve the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act which would create tax-free savings accounts for the disabled.
Introduced exactly one year earlier by Crenshaw and Casey, ABLE has attracted strong bipartisan support with over half the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate signed on as cosponsors. In addition to Autism Speaks, over 50 disability organizations have joined in support of ABLE, including the National Down Syndrome Society and The Arc.
The event featured self-advocates, including Scott Gladstone (left), who is 24 and has autism, who said ABLE would enable him to live more independently. Scott, who is employed, said, "I want to live on my own some day and will have lots of things to pay for, but I cannot do that if the ABLE Act does not pass."
The ABLE Act would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The bill (HR.3423/S.1872) was introduced on November 15, 2011 and has earned the support of 237 House members and 40 Senators.
Peter Bell (below), Autism Speaks' executive vice president of programs and services, said, "With the prevalence of autism on the rise and the lifetime cost of caring for a single individual now estimated at about $2 million, ABLE offers a fiscally responsible solution to address this public health crisis. We urge Congress to recognize the overwhelming bipartisan support for this measure and act for all families with disabilities this session.”
(Read his full remarks here)
Crenshaw said ABLE would help level the playing field for people with disabilities, noting that such tax-exempt accounts already exist to help families save for college. "No longer would individuals with disabilities have to stand by and watch others use IRS-sanctioned tools to lay the groundwork for a brighter future," he said.
“Parents of children with disabilities face struggles on a daily basis that we can’t even begin to imagine," Casey said. "Passing the bipartisan ABLE Act will provide a measure of security for parents with disabled children who will be able to set aside savings for their long term care in a tax free account."
Also attending the event was Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).