ABLE accounts are helping people with disabilities across the country save money without jeopardizing their benefits, but there are more than 6 million people with disabilities who are not eligible to take advantage of this important savings tool because they acquired a disability after age 25. At the same time, the pool of potential ABLE account holders should be expanded to strengthen the market for state ABLE programs.
The Arc, along with nearly 160 other organizations from across the country, believes that ABLE should be expanded to include more people with disabilities, and has signed onto a letter urging Congress to pass this bill this session.
Beyond the fairness/equity argument for increasing the age of onset, it has now become a financial imperative to pass the ABLE Age Adjustment Act. There are currently thirty-nine states with ABLE programs, yet data collected by the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) shows that the number of ABLE accounts being opened is much lower than anticipated. The long-term sustainability, availability, and affordability of some ABLE programs for individuals with disabilities are in doubt without this expansion of eligibility (NAST Sustainability Report).
Urge your Senators and Representative to support people with disabilities and their families by cosponsoring the bipartisan ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S. 817/ HR 1874).
Please take a few minutes to call or email your legislators to ask them to support the ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S.817/HR 1874), which would amend Section 529A(e) of the Internal Revenue Code to increase the eligibility for Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts for onset of disability from prior to age 26 to prior to age 46. Together we can advocate to #ExpandABLE and pass the #ABLEAgeAdjustment Act.
For more information about ABLE accounts, please visit the ABLE National Resource Center at www.ablenrc.org. Please note that this does not address the remaining concern for some groups of poeple who might be affected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ statements around the requirement of a clawback of funds after a person passes away who utilize waiver services.
OTHER FEDERAL UPDATES
Social Security – Senate Committee Held Hearing on Nomination of SSA Commissioner
On October 2, the Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing on the Nomination of Andrew M. Saul, of New York, to be Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) for the term expiring January 19, 2019. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video on the day of the hearing.
Major Recent Events
Tax – House Approves Tax Cut Package
On September 28, the House of Representatives approved a package of three tax bills (H.R. 6760, H.R. 6757, H.R. 6756), collectively referred to as “Tax Reform 2.0” by a vote of 220-191. The centerpiece of the package, H.R. 6760, makes permanent the individual tax cuts from last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that are presently set to expire in 2025. The Tax Policy Center estimates that tax revenues would fall by $3.2 trillion over a 10-year period under H.R. 6760, on top of the $1.9 trillion that last year’s tax law is already expected to cost. The Senate is not expected to take up the measure prior to the mid-term elections. The Arc opposes Tax Reform 2.0 as it sharply reduces federal revenue, extends tax cuts that primarily benefit wealthy individuals, and will create greater pressure to cut critical programs for people with disabilities. Read more from CCD here.
Budget & Appropriations – FY 2019 L-HHS-ED Funding Bill Signed into Law
On September 28, President Trump signed into law a measure that funds the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) for fiscal year (FY) 2019 that begins on October 1. The measure also includes funding for the Department of Defense and a continuing resolution for other federal agencies until December 7. The package had been approved by the House on September 26. Most of The Arc’s priority programs were level funded or received slight increases and controversial policy riders have been removed. Additionally, $300,000 was added to fund the Caregiving Advisory Council established under the RAISE Family Caregivers Act and $5 million was added to fund Care Corps, a network of volunteer caregivers. The House is expected to vote on the package this week. Funding levels for The Arc’s priority programs can be found here.
Social Security – House Committee Holds Hearing on SSA’s Information Technology
On September 27, the House Ways and Means Committee Social Security Subcommittee held a hearing on the “State of Social Security’s Information Technology.” Witnesses were Rajive Mathur, Deputy Commissioner of Systems and Chief Information Officer, Social Security Administration; Gale Stallworth Stone, Acting Inspector General, Social Security Administration; and Carol C. Harris, Director, Information Technology Management Issues, Government Accountability Office. Visit the Committee web site to review testimony and archived video.
The Arc of Illinois
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Frankfort, IL 60423