Individuals with disabilities and their families will be able to save money, tax free, without fear of losing eligibility for public assistance if the governor signs two bills sent to him on bipartisan votes by state lawmakers.
Senate Bill 324 by Senator Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills and Assembly Bill 449 by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin of Thousand Oaks set up a new state-run savings program. The bills allow California to participate in a new program, the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, signed by President Barack Obama in December.
The so-called ABLE program protects people who need government help, such as medical care, from being destitute to qualify for benefits. Instead, they can put aside extra funds to pay for “a variety of needed expenses, such as medical and dental care, housing and education,” said Pavley.
Financial assistance provided by the ABLE Act “helps people with disabilities find a path to employment and greater independence and dignity,” said Irwin. “The costs of caring and providing for someone with disabilities can be enormous.”
According to the National Down Syndrome Society, a person diagnosed with a disability cannot have assets worth more than $2,000 or earn more than $680 per month without forfeiting eligibility for government programs like Medicaid and SSI. This can have the effect of discouraging people with disabilities from working and saving.