Achieving A Better Life Experience Act
Posted by Stephen Williams
GOOD NEWS FOR PERSONS WHO WANT TO PROVIDE A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE FOR A DISABLED FAMILY MEMBER IS ON THE NEAR HORIZON.
"ABLE" - Achieving a Better Life Experience Act
Having languished since first introduced in 2006, legislation to boost support for persons with disabilities is expected to become law yet this year. When enacted it will permit tax advantaged accounts – similar to Section 529 educational plans – to be established on behalf of disabled persons. The overall goal is to encourage individuals to privately fund independence, housing, training, transportation, wellness – and, in general, quality of life – of persons with disabilities. The act explicitly provides that private resources will supplement, but not supplant, publicly administered assistance.
Up to $100,000 would be permitted to accumulate within an account without impacting eligibility for needs-based benefits: While excess amounts would curtail SSI benefits, Medicaid eligibility remains intact even if larger amounts accumulate within the account. And, funds withdrawn and used to pay for a broad category of support services, such as education, housing, transportation, employment training, health and wellness services, are not considered "income" which would otherwise impact eligibility under needs-based programs.
The legislation, known by the acronym "ABLE", reportedly has the support of 85% of Congress. It has passed the House (December 3rd) and, as soon as chairman Reid completes his political agenda by obtaining Senate endorsement of a host of administration appointees, is expected to be brought to the floor and clear the Senate.
The federal enabling legislation, which amends the Internal Revenue Code, will require state action to create a state administered system modeled after the educational savings account system.
This is not intended to be a comprehensive review of the Act, but merely to alert families who have a disabled person that future planning opportunities merit further investigation.