WASHINGTON, D.C. – Culminating a nearly eight year effort spanning four sessions of Congress the ABLE Act passed the Senate late Tuesday night with a vote of 76-16. The bill overwhelmingly passed the House earlier this month with a vote of 404-17. If signed by President Obama, as expected, this landmark bill will become the law of the land and give millions of families supporting loved ones living with Fragile X and other disabilities the right to save for their future like every other American.
A rare bipartisan effort from its inception, the ABLE Act was cosponsored by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC).
“At a time when so many Americans are skeptical that Congress can agree on anything, we are thrilled and proud that such a monumental bill as ABLE will be one of the last and most widely-supported bills to pass this session of Congress. We’re thrilled because passage of ABLE means individuals and families living with Fragile X can now achieve a greater level of self-sufficiency,” said Tony Ferlenda, CEO of the National Fragile X Foundation. “We are proud because Fragile X advocates have carried ABLE to Congress for the last eight years, returning annually on National Fragile X Foundation Advocacy Day.”
Once signed by the President, the ABLE Act will allow individuals living with disabilities and their families to save for their future in much the same way that other Americans can save for college in a 529 account or for retirement in a 401K account.
“Living with Fragile X and other disabilities like autism spectrum disorder, which is closely related and can be caused by the Fragile X mutation, can be expensive,” said Jeffrey Cohen, Director Public Policy & Government Affairs at the National Fragile X Foundation. Until ABLE, individuals living with Fragile X, most of whom are able to work and be productive citizens, would lose all Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and other supports if they accumulated as little as $2,000. This created a real disincentive to work. But now with the ABLE Act these same folks can save for their own future and achieve a greatest level of independence.”
Similar to restrictions on 529 accounts, ABLE accounts can only be used for expenses connected with a disabling condition. If signed by President Obama it is anticipated families could begin opening ABLE accounts in early 2015 after the IRS establishes rules and regulations.