Congress Passes The ABLE Act To Benefit Disabled Children

In a huge show of bipartisan support, the ABLE Act passed congress with a 404-17 vote on Wednesday.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, known as the ABLE Act, is aimed at helping parents provide for the future of their children who have disabilities without worrying about penalties or other obstacles.

The new bill will allow qualifying parents to create tax-free savings account for their disabled or special needs child to be used for approved expenses such as education, housing, and health care. In addition to this, another really big victory for so many families is that the savings account will not take the place of other benefits that the child may be eligible for including SSI and medicaid. This is very important for families who have been faced with making a decision between providing for their child’s future and getting their child the help that they needed through available programs now.

Over 19 organizations signed a letter of support for the ABLE Act urging congressional leaders to the pass the bill including the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, Autism Speaks, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the National Federation of the Blind.

The ABLE Act was first introduced by Florida Republican Ander Crenshaw back in 2006 and it has taken eight years to finally see it pass, but it was not as easy as simply agreeing to the bill, it came attached with a heavy price tag. The bill only came to fruition through a series of offsets and compromises intended to make up the money many felt would be lost by offering the tax-free advantages of the ABLE Act. These offsets included raising the age that Americans may apply for social security retirement by a year, making cuts to certain things that medicare will pay for, and adding a nine cents increase to the cargo fuel excise tax.

The ABLE Act opponents were concerned that the burden for providing for the children of these families was being placed unfairly on America’s elderly, resulting in a “robbing Peter to pay Paul” sort of scenario; therefore, asking the elderly to carry a heavy responsibility for the ABLE Act’s $2.1 billion price tag could be simply solving one problem for one group of people by creating another problem for a different group which, in the end, may actually make the ABLE Act more problematic than it may seem initially. They also point out that the ABLE Act does little to help low income families or older adults who may suffer from disabilities as well.

Regardless of which side of the issue someone stands, the one great thing about the passing of the ABLE Act is that it shows what can actually happen when both parties work together and that bipartisan efforts are possible when they just set their minds to making it happen.

[Image: Americans for Tax Reform]