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Hawaii Passes ABLE Program, Bill Heads to Governor

May 02, 2015

Honolulu- The Hawaii legislature passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, HB 119 to allows families the opportunity to set up tax-exempt 529A savings accounts for disability-related expenses. The bill now heads to Governor David Ige for his signature.

The Hawaii ABLE Savings Program legislation was sponsored by Rep. Della Au Belatti (D-Makiki) and follows upon enactment by the federal government of the Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014. The federal law allows ABLE account funds to be disregarded for means-tested federal programs such as SSI and Medicaid, which cap (usually at $2,000) the amount an individual with a disability may save. 

Living with a disability can pose unique challenges but the ABLE Act provides a means for alleviating the financial worry and burden facing parents of disabled children.  By providing the opportunity to set aside money in tax-free savings accounts, this legislation empowers families and individuals to create a secure source of funding for disability-related expenses," said Rep. Bellati.

 “We are incredibly grateful for the leadership of Representative Della Au Belatti and Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland for championing ABLE legislation in Hawaii and for the hard work of all families and community groups who reached out to their legislators on this important issue,” said Stuart Spielman, Senior Policy Advisor and Counsel at Autism Speaks. “We are hopeful that Governor David Ige will promptly enact the Hawaii ABLE Savings Program so that all families can plan for the financial futures of their loved ones.”

Hawaii joins Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia in the growing list of states that have either passed or enacted ABLE legislation. ABLE legislation is currently pending in Alabama, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana (would amend existing law), Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Vermont.

Families impacted by autism in Hawaii also celebrated the passage of autism insurance reforms this week. Read more HERE

Stay up to date on all advocacy efforts in your state by signing up for Autism Votes HERE.