Minority Press

(PA) Casey: We Must Expand Access to ABLE Accounts for People with Disabilities

ABLE Accounts Help People with Disabilities Keep Benefits and Save for the Future


Washington, DC - Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, held a hearing, “Supporting Economic Stability and Self-Sufficiency as Americans with Disabilities and their Families Age.” During the hearing, Senator Casey urged his colleagues to pass the ABLE Age Adjustment Act to expand access to ABLE accounts. Introduced in 2017 by Senators Casey and Richard Burr (R-NC), the bipartisan legislation would increase eligibility and allow people who have acquired a disability before age 46 to open ABLE accounts.

 

Senators Casey and Burr’s Achieving A Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) was signed into law, in 2014, and made it possible for states to pass legislation that allow people with disabilities, under age 26, to open tax-free savings accounts. The ABLE Act helps people with disabilities save money, which can be used to cover qualifying disability expenses, without the risk of losing federal disability benefits such as Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid.

 

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are more than 56 million people living with disabilities in the U.S. According to a 2016 American Consumer Survey, in Pennsylvania, the poverty rate for working-age people with disabilities is 28.6 percent—almost three times the 10.2 percent poverty rate for the general Pennsylvania population.

 

“People with disabilities are less likely to be employed, more likely to be underemployed and are twice as likely to live in poverty as compared to their working-age peers. With fewer opportunities to earn income and significant penalties that prevent saving, people with disabilities and their families are often in difficult financial situations,” said Senator Casey. “This is why I worked with Senator Burr to pass the ABLE Act—to help people with disabilities achieve financial independence and economic stability. Congress can further address these economic challenges by passing the ABLE Age Adjustment Act, which would expand ABLE account eligibility to people who acquire a disability prior to age 46.”

 

Pennsylvania’s Deputy Treasurer for Consumer Programs, Jack Stollsteimer, testified before the committee at the invitation of Senator Casey about his leadership of the Commonwealth’s ABLE program. The Pennsylvania ABLE program is one of the most heavily invested in the country—with the average account balance of more than $6,000, roughly $1,000 more than the national average. “Thanks to leadership at the federal level from Senator Casey, and the committed work of Treasurer Torsella and the whole of the Pennsylvania Treasury department, PA ABLE has led the country with more than 1,400 open accounts and $8.3 million dollars under management,” said Jack Stollsteimer. “But with hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians living with disabilities as they age, we have far more work to do to make sure that every eligible person knows the flexibility and security an ABLE account can provide, and to open up access to as many people with disabilities as possible.” said Mr. Stollsteimer.