March 2, 2021
The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014 opened doors to financial empowerment for millions of people in the disability community. It’s time to open those doors even further by expanding ABLE eligibility.
Like 529 plans for education expenses, ABLE accounts offer tax advantages to those saving for a wide range of qualifying disability-related expenses — including housing, health care, financial services, and yes, even education. And ABLE account owners can save without impacting their Supplemental Security Income, medical assistance and other means-tested benefits.
Right now, individuals are eligible to save with ABLE accounts only if their qualifying disability was onset before age 26. Enactment of the federal ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S.331) would increase that to age 46. Passage of this important piece of legislation would have a tremendous impact on the lives of millions of Americans — including an estimated 1 million veterans.
As a veteran myself, I have seen firsthand how access to savings programs can positively impact disabled veterans. Many of their disabilities occur after age 26 and result directly from their dedication to the mission of protecting every one of us. Expanding ABLE eligibility would be a significant step forward in helping these selfless, patriotic heroes.
As I embark on my new journey as Pennsylvania’s state treasurer, I am honored to oversee PA ABLE — one of the largest, fastest-growing ABLE programs in the nation. Nearly 5,000 Pennsylvanians have saved more than $48 million since our program opened in 2017 — and one act of Congress would dramatically expand the reach of PA ABLE and ABLE programs across the country.
ABLE programs can be life-changing for millions of Americans with disabilities and their families, and enactment of the ABLE Age Adjustment Act would increase the number of those eligible for this empowering program across the United States from 8 million to 14 million.
By opening an ABLE account, those with disabilities can save their own money to cover the simple day-to-day costs many people take for granted — such as groceries or rent — or invest their money to help cover large expenses such as the cost of a service dog or assistive technology and modified vehicles. Parents of children with disabilities can save confidently for their child’s future expenses without losing important benefits they need now. ABLE accounts expand independence, help individuals build wealth, and give families peace of mind.
ABLE empowers people with disabilities and their families, and the ABLE Age Adjustment Act would amplify the program’s impact. Expanding these saving opportunities is the right thing to do and will give more people the tools they need to save for tomorrow without impacting important benefits they rely on today.
U.S. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who sponsored the original ABLE legislation, has introduced the ABLE Age Adjustment Act in previous sessions of Congress and has just reintroduced the bill to the current session. It’s time to make this happen.
About the Author
Stacy Garrity, businesswoman and retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel, is the Pennsylvania State Treasurer. As Treasurer, she is the custodian of more than $110 billion in state assets. She also oversees Treasury’s savings programs, including PA ABLE and the PA 529 College and Career Savings Program. Learn more about the PA ABLE program at paable.gov.