Politics

Congress Set To Pass Legislation For Disabled Americans

| by Edward Arnold

Congress is set to pass a bill that will help disabled Americans save money without threatening their benefits.

The Achieving a Better Life Act (ABLE) will try to fix a problem that has been affecting disabled Americans for years. This is the biggest legislation addressing disability assistance since the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

The bill has 381 House sponsors and 74 Senate sponsors, or 85 percent of Congress.

ABLE will create a special savings account for qualified expenses that disabled Americans need in order to save money for future expenses. Currently, too many Americans with disabilities are unable to work enough to earn steady money while; at the same time, many do not receive enough money from disability insurance to financially survive. The cost of health care, housing, transportation and education make up the majority of their monthly expenses, leaving barely any money to plan for additional expenses.

The legislation creates new tax-exempted investment accounts that save for future expenses. The accounts are similar to 529 plans, or tax-free college savings plans parents use for their kids. These accounts could earn up to $14,000 a year to spend on the necessary expenses that federal benefits don't cover, such as education and transportation.

However, the legislation does not come without opponents. The Heritage Foundation is concerned the bill would expand the welfare state. They argue this legislation would complicate the tax code and eliminate asset-tests for disabled people. Additionally they believe the government should reform the treatment of savings for all Americans.

Despite opposition, supporters are confident this legislation will pass, shining a bright light on how Congress can work together with bipartisan support during one of the most unproductive legislative sessions in modern history.   

Source: USA Today / Photo Credit: Autism Speaks, Blog.TheArc.org