Friday, March 27, 2015

Bills Would Authorize ABLE Accounts in Pennsylvania



Two separate bills have been introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature to authorize the use of ABLE Accounts by Pennsylvania residents. House Bill 444 is sponsored by Republican Representative Todd Stephens. House Bill 583 is sponsored by Democrat Dan Miller.  
ABLE accounts are a new form of tax free savings account for individuals who became severely disabled before they reached age 26. The idea is to allow those qualified to have more savings than previously allowed without jeopardizing their public benefits eligibility. 
The extra savings in the account can be used as needed to pay for a broad range of expenses like education and housing costs. For more information on ABLE accounts see my earlier postings:
Individuals who think ABLE accounts should be available to Pennsylvania residents should contact their representatives and express support for the above legislation. You can find out how to contact your representatives in the state House and Senate here.  
Representative Stephens prepared the following Memorandum explaining his bill and seeking co-sponsors
Posted:
February 4, 2015 03:34 PM
From:
To:
All House members
Subject:
Tax Free Savings Accounts to Help People with Disabilities


I will be introducing legislation to ease the financial stresses faced by individuals with disabilities by creating a tax-free savings account in the Commonwealth that may be utilized to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing and transportation. Congress recently passed, and the President signed, a law providing for federal tax benefits for these accounts and allowing states to provide for similar tax benefits.

These funds will supplement benefits provided to individuals with disabilities and provide a mechanism for their families to prepare for their long term care.  The legislation allows for an account to be established that is similar to a PA 529 account.  The funds that are contributed to this new account may only be utilized for qualified disability expenses.

Qualified disability expenses means any expense related to the eligible individual’s disability which are made for the benefit of the individual and include the following expenses:

• Education;
• Housing;
• Transportation;
• Employment training and support;
• Health, prevention and wellness;
• Financial Management and administrative services;
• Legal fees;
• Expenses for oversight and monitoring;
• Funeral and Burial expenses; and
• Other expenses approved through regulations.

This legislation will provide an additional tool to those who are planning for the future of an individual with a disability.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this bill.


And here is Representative Miller’s Co-sponsorship Memorandum
Posted:
December 12, 2014 03:24 PM
From:
To:
All House members
Subject:
Creating disability tax advantaged savings accounts per the federal ABLE Act



In the near future, we plan to introduce legislation that would enact tax advantaged savings accounts for individuals with a disability per the soon-to-be-finalized federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. These ABLE Accounts would be similar in design and regulation to our existing 529 college savings accounts, but will be a game changer to those families who are looking to support their loved ones with a disability as they would supplement and not supplant existing assistance.

The ABLE Act recently passed the House by a 404-17 vote, with all of our Pennsylvanian Congressional delegation either voting for it or co-sponsoring it. It has 75 bipartisan Senate cosponsors- including Senator Toomey and the bill’s author Senator Casey. All signs indicate that it will be on its way to the President’s desk soon and signed into law. Given its significance and need we must move forward as soon as possible to allow our citizens to take advantage of this program.

Too many Pennsylvanian families face severe and arbitrary hurdles when it comes to supporting their loved ones with disabilities. An overwhelming bipartisan majority in DC has realized that we need to provide them with more tools to do so, and in a manner that does not endanger Medicaid and SSI benefits. These supports are often insufficient to ensure dignity, safety, and opportunity.

At the end of last session, a resolution I sponsored urging Congress to pass the ABLE Act unanimously passed our Human Services Committee. I hope you will join us in this new session in bringing this important piece of legislation to reality.

No comments: