Able Actby Representative Ander Crenshaw
Posted on 2014-07-30
CRENSHAW. Mr. Speaker, this morning, I want to bring attention to
proposed legislation known as the ABLE Act, or Achieving a Better Life
Experience. It is something that is important to me and to a lot of
Members of the House.
I first filed this legislation 7 years ago. Since then, we have come a long way. Today, 377 Members of the House and 74 United States Senators are cosponsors of this legislation. There is no piece of legislation in the Congress today that enjoys more bipartisan, bicameral support than the ABLE Act. Tomorrow, the Ways and Means Committee in the House will take up this legislation, and I hope that they will pass it with a favorable vote.
Just what is the ABLE Act? It is a piece of legislation that attempts to help those individuals with disabilities achieve their full potential. How does it do that? Well, it allows individuals with disabilities to set up a tax-free savings account. They take that account, it grows tax free, and they can use the proceeds, as long as they meet qualified expenses.
Those individuals face challenges that you and I can sometimes hardly imagine. They might be medical, transportation, education, or housing needs. We already allow other individuals to use tax-exempt savings accounts to help them.
If you want to save for retirement, you can set up a tax-free savings account called a 401(k). If you want to set [[Page H7052]] up a tax-free savings account to help you go to college, you can do that through what is called a 529. If you want to help with your health care, you can set up a health savings account. It seems only fair that we level the playing field and allow those individuals the same opportunity.
Let me introduce you to someone by the name of Sydney Leach. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida. Today, she is a fifth-grader at Crown Point Elementary School. She has Down syndrome. When she was born, her proud mom and dad, Stacy and Jeff Leach, made a commitment to make sure that she would not only have a happy life, but that she would be able to realize her hopes and her dreams and her full potential.
Soon they realized that when you raise a child with Down syndrome, you face challenges that a lot of people can't imagine. Unlike her classmates, she had to have special behavioral counseling. She had to have special medical care. She needed individual counseling. So it was difficult.
Her parents then found out that if you have Medicaid, you are limited to $2,000 for the amount of assets that you can have in your name. If her parents or loved ones wanted to give her a gift, they jeopardized the care that she needed.
So the ABLE Act seeks to correct those inequities. It says that you can, number one, set up a tax-free savings account and let those proceeds grow. Number two, it won't count against your $2,000 limitation on assets.
This is America, home of the American Dream. Individuals with disabilities ought to be able to live the American Dream, just like you and I. They ought to be able to have an education and work on their own, if they can. They ought to be able to save for the future. The ABLE Act allows them to do just that.
We live in a great, prosperous country. Sometimes, we are called upon to speak out for the people that can't speak out, to stand up and seek justice for those that can't seek justice on their own.
The ABLE Act will have a positive impact on millions of people with disabilities all across this land. That is worth fighting for. I hope soon the ABLE Act will become the law of the land.