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West Virginia Becomes Second State to Enact ABLE Program in 2015

April 01, 2015

CHARLESTON- Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed West Virginia’s Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, HB 2902, to allow families the opportunity to set up tax-exempt 529 savings accounts for disability-related expenses. West Virginia is now the second state after Virginia to enact ABLE this year.

HB 2902 was sponsored by Rep. Denise Campbell (D-Randolph) and made possible at the federal level by the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act enacted in December of last year. The tax exempt savings plans are managed on the state level and require state implementation.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has enacted ABLE program in West Virginia and this victory would not have been possible without the support of ABLE sponsor Rep. Denise Campbell and our hardworking grassroots advocates,” said Stuart Spielman, Senior Policy Advisor and Counsel at Autism Speaks.

Under previous law, people with disabilities who saved more than $2,000 would not qualify or would risk the loss of their Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid and other benefits, but the federal ABLE Act amended the tax code to disregard the current $2,000 cap on savings for individuals with disabilities for ABLE qualified programs.

“This is an important victory for families in the West Virginia disability community who can now better plan for the future of our loved ones so that they can lead more independent lives as adults,” said Jill McLaury, Autism Speaks State Policy Chair for West Virginia.

Virginia recently became the first state to enact ABLE since federal passage while Louisiana and Massachusetts already enacted legislation before legislation was enacted federally. Legislation is currently awaiting signature in North Dakota and Utah. 32 other states have filed bills. States with pending legislation include the following: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Washington.