Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ABLE Act passes the Senate, will become law

ABLE Act passes the Senate, will become law

Coons-cosponsored bill will allow Americans with disabilities to create tax-free savings accounts and gain more financial independence

Press Release from Senator Coons:
WASHINGTON – The Senate passed the bipartisan Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act on Tuesday night, making it easier for Americans with disabilities to save for their long-term care. U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) was an original cosponsor of the bill, which was introduced by Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.). The legislation, which has been described as, “the broadest legislation to help the disabled in nearly a quarter-century,” would allow families with children who have disabilities to open up 529-style tax-free savings accounts for them to build wealth and financial independence.

“Americans with disabilities deserve every opportunity to build a brighter future and the financial stability to ensure independence and self-determination,” Senator Coons said. “For too long, families of children with disabilities have faced the choice between federal benefits to help care for their child and saving for their child’s future. When the President signs the ABLE Act into law, families will be able to ensure their children will grow up with the means to provide for themselves while also meeting their current needs. They will no longer need to choose between their family’s present and their child’s future. The fight for the ABLE Act is one I’ve been proud to be a part of. I know many families in Delaware who will benefit from this law, and am proud to have played a small role in something that can make a huge difference in their lives.”

Rick and Amy Kosmalski of Bear, Delaware, are the parents of eight-year-old Kayla, who has Down Syndrome. Rick is also a National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) board member and the President of the 321foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower all individuals with Down Syndrome, their families, and friends in the community through advocacy, education, and support. Senator Coons has met with Rick, Amy, and Kayla several times over the last few years.

“Today is the day our family has been hoping for and working towards for nearly eight years, along with numerous other advocates, parents, and organizations,” Rick Kosmalski said. “Until now, my daughter, Kayla, has not had the right to save for her future or her needs. We often take for granted our rights as citizens and don't realize how something as small as being able to save your own money can make a huge impact in your life and independence. It is our hope that Kayla will pursue any dream that makes her happy in life. With the passing of the ABLE Act, that will now be possible.”

“The focus today should be on abilities, not disabilities,” Mr. Kosmalski said. “The passing of the ABLE Act will further allow individuals with special needs to prove to the world that they are more alike than different.

“Kayla is eight years old and in the third grade at Cedar Lane Elementary School. She loves music (especially Taylor Swift), dancing, swimming, shopping, and just being a typical eight-year-old kid.  Knowing that Kayla can save any money she receives for Christmas this year in an ABLE account is the greatest Christmas gift our family could have wished for.”

The ABLE Act passed as part of a larger tax credit extension bill, which the Senate passed on a bipartisan 76-16 vote. The ABLE Act would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code to allow use of tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The bill, first introduced in 2006, would ease financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities by making tax-free savings accounts available to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing, medical, and transportation. The bill would supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurance, the Medicaid program, the Social Security Income (SSI) program, the beneficiary’s employment, and other sources.

The ABLE Act was endorsed by a broad coalition of both national and state organizations, including the Delaware State Council for Persons with Disabilities, Down Syndrome Association of Delaware, Autism Speaks, The Arc, the 321foundation, American Association of People with Disabilities, Easter Seals, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Down Syndrome Society, and the Special Olympics.

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