Achieving a Better Life Experience Act Passes the House
Social Security Disability applications, approvals, and backlogs have been talked about greatly in Congress this year. While most discussion has focused on reducing backlogs and fraudulent applications, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act on December 3, 2014.
The ABLE Act
The ABLE Act was first introduced in Congress in 2006. It has been reintroduced each successive Congress, but with minimal to no action occurring. It was introduced into the 113th Congress in February 2013 by a bipartisan group. “The ABLE Act would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The bill aims to ease financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities by making tax-free savings accounts available to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing, and transportation. The bill would supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurances, the Medicaid program, the supplemental security income program, the beneficiary's employment, and other sources.”
This changes the current law where “to qualify for Medicaid and Social Security disability benefits, people with disabilities cannot have more than $2,000 in assets and cannot earn more than about $680 per month. There are 54 million Americans who have physical or intellectual disabilities, although only a subset of that population would be eligible and able to take advantage of the ABLE Act accounts.”
Organizations including the National Down Syndrome Society, National Federation of the Blind, and Autism Speaks heavily promoted the ABLE Act to assist disabled individuals to live more productive lives without being stuck in impoverished conditions. “For those eligible, the so-called Achieving a Better Life Experience Act could mean a more independent life, making it easier to prepare for future financial needs.”
House of Representatives
House Speaker John Boehner stated “We allow Americans to save for colleges for their kids. We allow Americans to save for their retirement, but for parents … of those with disabilities, there's no legal way for them to save for those individuals. The whole concept here is helping people to be independent and give them a vehicle to save for themselves.”
GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers said “the ABLE Act would ‘empower' many people, ‘including people like my son Cole, for the opportunity for a better life, and that's why we are here.'”
The House passed the bill on December 3, 2014 on a vote of 404-17. The bill has already been introduced in the Senate and could come up for a vote as early as the week of December 8th, 2014. It is interesting to note that the ABLE Act has “broad, bipartisan support to where 454 House and Senate lawmakers have cosponsored the bill, about 85% of Congress.”
As individuals look to apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, it is now important to take this upcoming law into account. With all the requirements of SSD applications and the necessary medical documents, having someone on your side to track everything is very helpful. Let our knowledgeable attorney assist you with all your SSD needs.