Home > Government Relations > Autism Speaks Endorses ABLE Bill Creating Tax-free Savings Accounts

Autism Speaks Endorses ABLE Bill Creating Tax-free Savings Accounts

Parents raising children with disabilities, including autism, could soon save for their futures with tax-free “529” savings accounts without jeopardizing their eligibility for other benefits.

The new accounts would be authorized under the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2011, which was introduced today in Congress with the support of Autism Speaks, The Arc, the National Down Syndrome Society and a host of other disability rights groups.

The ABLE Act, sponsored with bi-partisan support in the House by Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and in the Senate by Senators Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC), would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code to allow individuals with disabilities and their families to deposit earnings to tax-exempt savings accounts. The funds could be used to pay for qualified expenses, including education, housing and transportation, and would supplement, not replace, benefits provided through private insurance, employment or public programs.

“This is important, common sense legislation that will provide an incredible financial boost to families affected by autism and other disabilities who are struggling to pay for critical services,” said Bob Wright, Co-founder of Autism Speaks. “If we allow families to save tax-free for college, it is only fair that they be permitted to save to meet the needs of all of their children.”

Qualified disability expenses would include: school tuition and related educational materials; expenses for securing and maintaining a primary residence; transportation; employment supports; health prevention and wellness costs; assistive technology and personal support; and various miscellaneous expenses associated with independent living.

“According to a Harvard School of Public Health study, the cost of caring for a person with autism will exceed $3 million over their lifetime,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services, who spoke at a Capitol Hill press conference where the introduction of the bill was announced.

“Providing care for adults with autism is often far more expensive than for children, yet there are fewer funding resources. As more and more of our children with autism age to adulthood, our hands remain tied in planning for their future, said Bell. “The need for new resources to provide them with necessary care and services is imperative.”

Nora Fitzpatrick and Robert Stephens of Gaithersburg, MD, whose six-year-old daughter, Rory, has autism say the ABLE accounts could help then plan for a more secure future when Rory will join the rising tide of Americans with autism who enter adulthood without assurances of services or financial security.

“In the past four years we have seen huge strides in improvement as well as baby steps,” said Nora. “We’ve also seen behavioral issues pop up and health issues that have set Rory back. The uncertainty of everything is a huge part of the equation for us. The opportunity to start a 529 plan for Rory would be a great way to give us some certainty and comfort for the future.”

Learn more about the ABLE Act on autismvotes.org and ask your members of Congress to cosponsor the ABLE Act.

House Co-sponsor Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Florida) dicussed the ABLE Act in a House floor speech on Thursday, November 17.

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  1. Eric S. Lekan
    November 15, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    I am writing to ask you to cosponsor the Achieving a Better Life Act (ABLE) of 2011, and help suppot its quick enactment. I am totally against pork-belly spending, but for aid in those that don’t even have a voice to tell you they need aid. I have an autistic great niece that will have problems that will be life long. She may never understand the concept of money. She just turned 3 years old on Nov. 14. For kids like my great niece Aubrey Payton Hall, I sure hope you join to pass this tax-free 529 account act.

  2. November 16, 2011 at 12:42 am

    My youngest son was diagnosed three years ago with Autism/ADHD and a friend introduced me to a natural product made primarily from milk.
    I used this product and saw results in two months. Today my son shows no signs of Autism/Adhd, he is doing great in school and takes the initiative to do everything, truly a turnaround from the way he used to be. After the production of this milk it is the closest to mother’s milk because of the science and medical studies done, and it is recognized by many Doctors today, if anyone is interested in finding out more about this, please email me at asha.persaud@gmail.com. Thank you. There is hope for your kid(s).

  3. Kamesh Venugopal
    November 18, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    I am so glad to learn that ABLE may become law in the near future. I wrote to my congressman a few years ago to ask to do something on this exact topic but his staff mentioned that he was not in the appropriate committee. This is a win-win for both the families impacted by autism and other special needs and the government. I am hopeful that all the legislators will pass this.

  4. Luci
    November 27, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    As the sister and aunt to boys who have different types of Autism Disorder I can’t begin to describe the importance this bill has for our family. Not being able to contribute in some way shape or form to these kids who are living with Autism due to jeopardizing their benefits is a constant nagging concern for all families not just ours. Please pass this bill, help us see a little light at the end of the tunnel and give the parents who are the amazing constant caretakers hope that their children will have a future and that leaving something behind for them it will not jeopardize their benefits and wellbeing.

  5. JoAnna
    November 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    I am a single mother of a 17 year old son with autism. I support this bill. I cannot express what this bill will mean to us. As the primary caregiver I will be able to set money aside for his needs, and not have it affect his benefits. I pray it speedly passes.

  6. Cheryl
    December 3, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Oh how we need this… !!

  7. December 9, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    We need to be doing more for children with Autism and this is a good start.

  8. Mary
    December 13, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    I am a mother of a 5 yr old child with autism…I will be very happy if this gets approved..I can now try to save for his future without worrying it will affect his other benefits!!Thanks sooo much!!!

  9. December 14, 2011 at 7:11 am

    What is the current status of this bill, anyone?

  10. Steve
    February 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    When my son was born, we started a college fund for him, and if this comes forth, it would be amazing!! I was hoping that we could use this money to his future needs, and not have to get taxed on it.

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