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South Carolina unanimously passes ABLE legislation

April 27, 2016

South Carolina’s ABLE legislation, H. 3768, has passed both chambers of the state legislature and is now headed to Governor Nikki Haley for her signature. The bill was passed unanimously in the House, 102-0,  and in the Senate, 41-0 during April, Autism Awareness Month. 

The South Carolina ABLE act follows enactment by the federal government of the Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014, which authorizes states to create ABLE programs. 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. Assets in ABLE accounts will generally be disregarded by means-tested federal programs like Medicaid. 

The South Carolina legislation was sponsored by State Representatives G. Murrell Smith, Jeffrey E. "Jeff" Johnson, and Mark N. Willis.  

”The General Assembly passed this common-sense legislation, with unanimous votes through every step of the process.  We wanted to ensure that South Carolinians could take full advantage of this savings opportunity under the recently passed federal legislation,” said Rep. G. Murrell Smith. “With these unique 529 accounts, individuals and family members with disabilities will be able to save critical funds, tax free, without the current restrictions.  I was honored to introduce the South Carolina ABLE Act, H.3768, and delighted to see it pass this year.” 

The South Carolina legislation comes recently after Congress  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. 

ABLE programs have been authorized or facilitated by the District of Columbia and the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.