Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has signed HB 768, which establishes an ABLE program in Georgia. The bill received unanimous support from the Georgia legislature.
Modeled after college savings accounts, ABLE accounts will enable people with autism and their families to save for housing, education, transportation, medical and other expenses related to their disability. Assets in ABLE accounts will generally be disregarded by means-tested federal programs like Medicaid.
The Georgia legislation was sponsored by Georgia State Representatives Lee Hawkins, Wendell Willard, Virgil Fludd, Jan Jones, Scot Turner, and Terry England and follows enactment by the federal government of the Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014.
"HB 768 represents one of the most comprehensive bills in the nation which addresses the issue of accumulating savings without losing disability income," said Representative Hawkins at passage of the bill. "This required a team effort and I had the very best of teams to accomplish this goal."
The victory in Georgia comes after Congress recently introduced legislation to expand the ABLE program for individuals with autism and other disabilities. The package includes the ABLE to Work Act, the ABLE Financial Planning Act and the ABLE Age Adjustment Act. Advocates applauded the proposed enhancements, which would increase contribution limits, allow rollovers to and from college savings accounts, and expand eligibility.
“Because of the support of Governor Nathan Deal and the Georgia legislature families with disabilities across the state will soon have access to a tool to empower their financial futures,” said Stuart Spielman, senior policy advisor and counsel at Autism Speaks. “We thank the coalition of legislative champions, grassroots advocates and allied organization who made the enactment of ABLE in Georgia possible.”