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ABLE Act: Allowing Iowans with Disabilities to Save

PHOTO: The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act allows those with disabilities to establish a savings account of up to $100,000 for related expenses, without putting their benefits in jeopardy. Photo credit: Erin Sparling/Flickr.
PHOTO: The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act allows those with disabilities to establish a savings account of up to $100,000 for related expenses, without putting their benefits in jeopardy. Photo credit: Erin Sparling/Flickr.
December 18, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa - A common barrier to financial stability for individuals with disabilities is on its way out with Congressional approval of the Achieving a Better Life Experience or the ABLE Act.

Rik Shannon, public policy manager with the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, says the legislation allows people with disabilities to grow their savings accounts without jeopardizing their eligibility for Medicaid and Social Security.

"It recognizes there are added costs to individuals and families who are living with a disability," Shannon says. "For a long time we've had federally imposed asset limits that serve as a roadblock toward financial independence for many people who live with a disability."

Under current law, the maximum worth of assets before a person loses eligibility for government disability benefits is $2,000. The ABLE Act will allow for a savings account of up to $100,000.

These accounts can accept contributions from family and friends. Shannon notes they'll also be tax-exempt when used for a variety of expenses.

"Such as accessible housing and transportation, personal-assistants services, assisted technology and health care that's not covered by insurance, Medicaid or Medicare," he says. "It is a program that supports people with disabilities living independently in the communities of their choice."

The ABLE Act is awaiting President Obama's signature after passing the U.S. House earlier this month, and the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

In Iowa, there are about 350,000 people living with some type of disability.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA