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Scalise Statement on House Passage of ABLE Act

December 3, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) tonight released the following video statement regarding the passage of H.R. 647, the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, for which he was a co-sponsor. The legislation passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, 404-17.

“Today the House passed critical legislation that will improve the lives of millions of families who have children with disabilities. The Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act allows families with disabilities to create a tax-free savings account to help pay for medical visits, job training and educational opportunities.

“Just like parents can save for their child’s education, an ABLE Act account allows children with disabilities to pay for their medical care and achieve their full potential. Individuals with disabilities face unimaginable challenges every day, and the ABLE Act makes it easier for them to reach their full potential and realize their hopes and dreams without being discriminated against by senseless federal laws.

“The ABLE Act is a conservative solution that helps individuals become more independent and less dependent on government by empowering them with opportunity. It is also a conservative solution that enjoys more bicameral, bipartisan support than any other piece of legislation in Congress.

“This is just one of the many solutions House Republicans are working on to help improve the lives of hard-working taxpayers and help get our country back on the right track.”

BACKGROUND:

Under current law, individuals with disabilities face significant barriers to finding and holding employment and living independently because their access to certain safety-net programs can be lost once they establish a minimum level of savings and income, creating a disincentive to work. 

The ABLE Act would help more individuals with disabilities work, save and live independently without losing access to Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  States would have the option to establish an ABLE program, under which eligible individuals with disabilities could start an ABLE account, modeled after current Section 529 savings accounts.  Eligible individuals must be severely disabled before turning age 26.

·      Contributions would not be tax deductible;

·      Income earned by the accounts would not be taxed;

·      Account withdrawals, including portions attributable to investment earnings generated by the account, for qualified expenses would not be taxable;

·      Aggregate contributions to an ABLE account would be subject to an overall limit matching the State limit for Section 529 accounts. 

·      Individuals with ABLE accounts could maintain eligibility for means-tested benefits.  ABLE account balances and withdrawals are completely excluded for the purpose of Medicaid and other benefit programs. In SSI, the first $100,000 in account balances are excluded from counting as resources, as are most account withdrawals.

·      The legislation includes a series of offsets that ensure the legislation does not increase the deficit (while also ensuring the bill does not raise taxes overall).

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