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Backers: Disability savings account bill about more than money

As far as supporters are concerned (and there are plenty of them), this is the year the Achieving a Better Live Experience Act is due to pass.

The measure, which carries the apt acronym ABLE Act, has been in the works in Congress since 2009. It has been languishing somewhat up to now, but with support from nearly every disability advocacy group in the country, 63 co-sponsors in the Senate and 332 in the House representing both parties, the legislation now appears poised to pass.

Enactment would surely be welcome news for individuals who depend on Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income. 

Proponents say that what the measure would do is make it possible for individuals with disabilities to set up special bank accounts similar to the 529 accounts many parents use to save money for their children's college educations. The new 529A accounts would allow disabled individuals to save up to $100,000 without fear of the funds being counted as assets that might disqualify them from receiving many services they desperately need.

Interest on the money would accrue tax free. The funds would be shielded as long as the money is spent for such essentials as housing, education or job training, transportation and health care.

Disabled advocates say the ABLE Act is about more than saving money. They say it's about supporting those with disabilities achieve greater self-determination. They note that many disabled people are discouraged from pursuing greater opportunity fearing they might lose access to Medicaid or other programs.

Backers say the only thing holding up action on the bill is a Congressional Budget Office report on what the measure will cost the government.  That could come in just a matter of days.

Source: Disability Scoop, "Congress Eyeing Tax-Free Disability Savings Accounts," Michelle Diament, Feb. 21, 2014

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