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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Frankfort Sets Table to Promote Savings Plan for People with Disabilities

Announces Details of ABLE Act Similar to 529 College Savings Plan
Sen. Wil Schroder with Sarah and Anderson after the conference to announce pre-filed details of the ABLE Act. 

Kentucky Treasurer Todd Hollenbach joined disability rights advocates today in the Capitol Rotunda to announce details of the enabling legislation for the Federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.

“According to research by the U.S. Census Bureau, the rate of poverty for people with disabilities, was nearly triple the poverty rate of people without disabilities,” Treasurer Hollenbach said.  “The program would be housed in the State Treasury allowing Kentuckians to set aside funds for future costs related to their disabilities just as the 529 education savings plan does for future college costs.”

Fort Thomas resident Ashley Barlow has been working with legislators to help craft this legislation. Her son, Jack, has Down syndrome.

"We tell people that having Down syndrome means that our son, Jack, can do nearly everything that everybody else can do but that he may do some things slower than his typical peers.  The truth is,  however, that until the ABLE Act is enacted by the  states, people with disabilities are prohibited from saving," she said. "We dream that Jack will be able to get a job and save for whatever he wants to buy. Having an ABLE account allows him to do that.  Jack is five, so he may take over for Teddy Kramer when Ted retires with the Reds!"

Lynn Braker, the parent of a 3 year old son with down-syndrome, also believes everyone should have the right and the opportunity for a safe and secure future.

“My son and thousands like him in Kentucky will never be able to sustain themselves on their own because of the current limitations on eligibility requirements for government benefits.  The ABLE Act gives our family a fighting chance to build a better future for our son!”  

The proposed legislation has been pre-filed for consideration in the 2016 legislative session by co-sponsors Senator Wil Schroder (R-Wilder) and Representative Mike Denham (D-Maysville).

“28 States have enacted similar legislation and our bill will give Kentuckians with disabilities a chance for a better life and a better future,” Denham said.  Schroder added, “I’m looking forward to working in a bipartisan manner and getting the support needed to ensure that this bill, which would help so many Kentucky families, become a reality next session.”

The bill would allow any individual who is receiving, deemed to be receiving, or treated as receiving supplemental security income benefits or disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act to set up an ABLE savings account.

Also eligible are individuals who are blind or have a medically determined physical or mental impairment, which results in marked and severe functional limitations. An ABLE account cannot receive more than $14,000 a year and the total amount in the account cannot exceed the limits for 529 accounts.  Qualified expenses paid for by the account are those related to the individuals disability and include items such as education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology, financial management, legal fees, funeral and burial expenses plus others.

"As a privately practicing attorney, I also have drafted a fair amount of special needs estate plans for clients. Many parents of children with disabilities save for them by purchasing life insurance policies. Shortly after our son was born, my husband was diagnosed with cancer, rendering him uninsurable for a period of time," said Barlow. "If we had been able to put some money into a bank account for Jack's benefit, we would have been able to save a little bit, despite my husband's diagnosis. Additionally, I have helped several adults with disabilities, who have been cut off from their benefits as a result of inheriting money.  ABLE accounts could help them avoid this significant inconvenience."

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