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Are You ABLE to Support Tax-free Savings Accounts?

February 15, 2012 1 comment

Do you want to be “ABLE” to save tax-free for the future needs of your child with autism? Then come join Autism Speaks and advocates from 48 other national disability organizations tomorrow in Washington, D.C. for a Capitol Hill briefing on the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. The briefing will be held from noon to 1:30 pm in Room B-339 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act would level the playing field for individuals with autism (and other disabilities) and their families to save for disability-related expenses. Just as families can put away savings in tax-exempt accounts for children to go to college, the ABLE Act would allow such accounts for individuals with disabilities to cover their future education, housing, transportation and related expenses. ABLE Accounts would resemble existing 529 college savings plans and would supplement, not replace, benefits provided through Medicaid, private insurance or employment.

The briefing has been organized by Reps. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), all cosponsors of HR.3423, the House version of ABLE. A panel of experts, including Stuart Spielman of Autism Speaks, will address the briefing.

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. Providing care for adults with autism is often far more expensive than for children, yet there are fewer funding resources. As more and more children with autism age to adulthood, their families are growing increasingly frustrated over how to plan for their future. The need for new resources to provide them with necessary care and services is imperative.

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. Eligibility would extend to any individual who is receiving supplemental security income benefits or disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, or “who has a medically determined physical or mental impairment, which results in marked and severe functional limitations” that can be verified by a physician.

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