Harrisburg, PA: As we approach the one-year anniversary of the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, The ABLE Advocacy Coalition is asking Pennsylvania legislators to put a bow on this gift for children and adults with disabilities and their families – pass PA ABLE authorizing legislation in Pennsylvania.
“We have been advocating for ABLE accounts for almost a decade”, says Sara Wolff, Board Director of The Arc of Pennsylvania and self-advocate. “I logged so many miles at the Capitol in Washington, DC, helping the ABLE Act pass nearly a year ago. Thirty-three states are already creating their ABLE programs – I know we can get this done in Pennsylvania.” The ABLE Advocacy Coalition has met repeatedly with the Pennsylvania Treasury Department, which is ready to develop and implement the PA ABLE program as soon as enabling legislation passes.
ABLE savings accounts give children and adults with disabilities, their families, the ability save for current and future living expenses like employment, educational expenses like tutoring or higher education, housing, and assistive technology. The federal ABLE law made it possible for states to begin setting up ABLE savings accounts after each state passes enabling legislation. The Pennsylvania legislature must pass SB 879 and HB 1319 before Pennsylvania can begin the months- long process of setting up the PA ABLE program. Failure to act will put Pennsylvania behind other states in establishing this program and reduce the Commonwealth’s chance in taking advantage of economies of scale in establishing the program. But most consequentially, the continued delay in enacting this program is a disservice to some of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens.
Thousands of people with disabilities and their families would benefit from ABLE accounts. Parent Al Freedman says, “I’m excited about being able to open an ABLE account for our son Jack, who has spinal muscular atrophy. We need to save for some additional nursing care that Jack may need as he gets older as well as home modifications so that Jack has a good life at home. We also want to save for his future education costs, because we want Jack to have the opportunity for more training or higher education that will help him get a job in the community.”
The ABLE Advocacy Coalition is a state-wide, cross disability group that includes individuals with disabilities, parents, professionals, and disability rights advocates who support bringing ABLE savings accounts to Pennsylvania. Together we serve and represent over 100,000 Pennsylvanians with disabilities and their families.
The ABLE Advocacy coalition includes people with disabilities, advocates, and representatives of PATF, The Arc of Pennsylvania, PAR, RCPA, ACHIEVA, Abilities in Motion, Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania, KenCrest Centers, PMHCA, PASILC, and many other advocacy and provider organizations.
Download the Press Release in PDF form using the following link: ABLE Press Release 12 10 2015