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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Action Alert: Tell Your Senators Not to Gut the ABLE Act!

Last Wednesday, the House overwhelmingly passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, H.R. 647 by a vote of 404-17. The Senate is expected to take action this week, and with 74 Senate co-sponsors, it is likely that it will pass.

The ABLE Act allows individuals with disabilities and their families to save funds in an ABLE Account, a tax-free savings account that can go towards housing, transportation, home health, and other eligible expenses. This will allow individuals to accumulate assets without jeopardizing eligibility for Medicaid or Social Security benefits.

However, NCIL has significant concerns regarding who can access and open an ABLE Account. The ABLE Act has a lot of potential, but because of recent changes, only individuals who acquire a disability before the age of 26 are eligible for an ABLE Account. This means that individuals who acquire a disability at or after that age will not be helped by the ABLE Act at all.

We need Congress to hear from us and understand that the ABLE Act is important for all people with disabilities, regardless of when we acquire our disability! Accumulating assets is just as important for people who acquire a disability at or after the age of 26 to be able to improve their economic status and earn their way out of poverty.

Because of the advocacy of NCIL members and other disability rights groups, our concern regarding substantial gainful activity has been resolved, and individuals who meet the definition of disability are able to maintain an ABLE Account regardless of engagement in SGA. We need to make sure our voices are heard on this critical issue as well. The Senate needs to hear from you before they vote on the ABLE Act! Call your Senators and let them know that this needs to be fixed in the current (or future) Congress. Let them know that ALL people with disabilities should be eligible for an ABLE account!


  1. Amy Storbakken says:

    Yes, people with disabilities should not be penalized for working or forced to spend all their earnings. We should not be sentencing people to a marginalized economic existence. Right now, the policies very much encourage people to not work and stay on social security, a life of poverty. Acknowledge that it costs more to live with a disability and attempt to level the playing field rather than tilting it.

  2. Goddessoflubbock says:

    This bill only helps a small group of disabled who come from families with money.

    How does this help the poor who are disabled? They can’t save, they barely make it to day 30.

    So now the wealthy get their benefits AND those meant for the poor. Since they can have $50k sitting in the bank and still collect SSI, snap, Medicaid, etc. Truly an outrage!

    • I believe the original intention of this bill was to allow parents to save money for college for their children who are disabled. Currently, we can save money for our non-disabled children in a 529 education plan. But if we save more than $2K for our child who is disabled, we risk the back-up health safety net that our child has when our primary insurance does not cover a needed service. Medicaid is only used when all other sources of payment are exhausted. We are hopeful that our child with a disability will be able to go on to college and become self-supporting. The Able Act will allow us as parents to finance this education without risking bankrupcy should his healthcare costs exceed what our primary insurer is willing to cover. We feel strongly about providing all of our children with savings for college. While I understand why people would like to expand this bill for other purposes, “perfection” can be the enemy of “good enough.” Get this bill passed now and go for an age expansion later.

  3. Pamela Soucy says:

    lets help not enable. Symptoms ,we are all able to do something

  4. So in other words, the bill that I have been begging Congress to pass will only help about twenty percent of disabled people. What about those who tried to work or get their education while dealing with numerous permanent health issues? Are they penalized because they didn’t ‘get disabled enough’ before twenty seven? Also the bill will only help those whose relatives are well off enough to be able to put this money back. My parents are very upset that the bill has been completely gutted – in order to appease the Republicans, I suppose.
    I wrote to one member and asked him how he would be able to afford a major repair on his car with only $2000 savings.
    This just confirms to me that most members of Congress really don’t care about you unless you have the big bucks to contribute to their campaign.

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