Governor Wolf Signs Bill to Help Individuals with Disabilities Save for Future Expenses

April 18, 2016

Harrisburg, PA — Governor Wolf today signed into law the Pennsylvania Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (PA ABLE) that enables the creation of tax-exempt savings accounts specifically for people with qualified disabilities and their families. The accounts can be used for a wide-range of disability-related expenses including health care, housing, and transportation without jeopardizing eligibility for important programs on which individuals with disabilities must often depend.

“My administration is committed to promoting and encouraging independence, community-based supports and services, and employment for individuals with a disability,” said Governor Wolf. “Pennsylvanians with disabilities can now achieve greater fiscal self-sufficiency, without the risk of impacting their eligibility for benefits. I am proud to sign this bill today and continue our work to help individuals with disabilities stay in their homes and communities.”

U.S. Senator Bob Casey led efforts to win Congressional passage of the federal ABLE Act, which authorized states to establish tax-exempt savings accounts modeled on section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, which recognizes state-established savings programs to meet future college expenses. Pennsylvania Treasury has been administering the Pennsylvania 529 program since 1993 and will administer the ABLE Program.

“From the time I and other members of Congress began working on the ABLE Act, it was rooted in a belief that we all share: that those with disabilities have a lot of ability,” said Senator Casey. “I believe that every child is born with a light inside of them, and that it’s the abiding obligation of all those in public office to do all we can to help that light shine. I commend Governor Wolf, Senator Lisa Baker of Luzerne County, and all the members of the General Assembly for their work in making ABLE a reality in Pennsylvania.”

“Thank you to Senator Casey, Governor Wolf and the legislature for their cooperative efforts in working with Treasury to make the PA ABLE Savings Account Program a reality,” said Pennsylvania Treasurer Timothy Reese. “Treasury has already started working with all the stakeholders to make the program operational and promote ABLE accounts so we can soon help ease the financial burdens facing people with disabilities.”

Under the new law benefits of the program include:

  • Savings of up to $14,000 each year.
  • Tax-free growth.
  • Use of the account to pay for a wide range of disability-related expenses.
  • Federal and state income tax-free withdrawals when used for qualified disability expenses.
  • Exemption from Pennsylvania inheritance tax.

“ABLE accounts will encourage more individuals to work and save money without losing their benefits,” said Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas. “We want to ensure that all commonwealth residents can to be as independent as possible, working at fulfilling jobs that pay and setting money aside for savings. The ABLE Act can help more Pennsylvania residents to live the American dream.”

Significantly, for many individuals with disabilities, ABLE savings are excluded from eligibility determinations for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits (savings up to $100,000), other means-tested federal programs, Medical Assistance, and other state means-tested disability and health benefits.

Treasury has created a website with more information on the ABLE program and where those interested can sign up for updates and open an account when the program is available. Treasury will work with other state agencies and disability support and advocacy organizations to create a savings program that will serve the very diverse needs of individuals with disabilities and their families. The goal is to offer the program in the fourth quarter of 2016.

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