The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act would ease the financial burden for individuals with disabilities by creating tax-free accounts that can be used to save for disability-related expenses. These accounts can be created by individuals to support themselves or by families to support their dependents.
The ABLE act was introduced by Ander Crenshaw [R-FL4] in the House and by Robert Casey [D-PA] in the Senate. Together, the two bills have over 400 cosponsors.
The bill would create tax-exempt, state based private savings accounts to fund disability-related expenses to supplement benefits currently provided by Social Security, Medicaid, employers, and private insurance. The account shall be treated in the same way as a qualified tuition program, such as a 529. A 529 account allows families to save money for an individual’s education without being disqualified for certain aid programs and prevents tax penalties on the money saved and any income earned from it.
Expenses would qualify as disability-related if they are for the benefit of an individual with a disability and are related to the disability. They include education; housing; transportation; employment support; health, prevention, and wellness costs; assistive technology and personal support services; and other expenses.
ABLE accounts will have no impact on Medicaid eligibility. Those receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from Social Security shall have those payments suspended while maintaining excess resources in an ABLE account.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.
12/3/2014--Passed House amended.
Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 or the ABLE Act of 2014 - Title I: Qualified ABLE Programs - (Sec. 101) States as the purposes of this title to: (1) encourage and assist individuals and families in saving private funds for the purpose of supporting individuals with disabilities to maintain health, independence, and quality of life; and (2) provide secure funding for disability-related expenses of beneficiaries with disabilities that will supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurance, title XVI (Supplemental Security Income) and title XIX (Medicaid) of the Social Security Act, the beneficiary's employment, and other sources.
(Sec. 102) Amends the Internal Revenue Code to exempt from taxation a qualified ABLE program established and maintained by a state, or by an agency or instrumentality of the state, to pay the qualified disability expenses related to the blindness or disability of a program beneficiary, including expenses for education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology and personal support services, health, prevention and wellness, financial management and administrative services, legal fees, and expenses for oversight and monitoring, funeral and burial expenses.
Requires officers and employees who have control of the qualified ABLE program to make reports as required by the Secretary of the Treasury. Imposes an additional 10% tax on individuals who do not use distributions from an ABLE account for disability expenses. Subjects ABLE accounts to the penalty tax for excess contributions and for failure to file required reports.
(Sec. 103) Requires amounts in ABLE accounts to be disregarded in determining eligibility for means-tested federal programs, except distributions for housing expenses under the supplemental security income program and for amounts in an ABLE account exceeding $100,000. Suspends the payment of supplemental security income benefits to an individual during any period in which such individual has excess resources in an ABLE account, but does not suspend or affect the Medicaid eligibility of such individual.
(Sec. 104) Amends the bankruptcy code to exclude funds placed in an account of a qualified ABLE program from a bankruptcy estate, but only if: (1) the designated beneficiary of such account was a child, stepchild, grandchild, or step grandchild of the debtor; (2) such funds are not pledged or promised to any entity in connection with any extension of credit and are not excess contributions to an ABLE account; and (3) such funds do not exceed $6,225 during a specified time period.
(Sec. 105) Amends the Internal Revenue Code to permit contributors to or beneficiaries of a qualified tuition program (529 program) to direct the investment of contributions to a 529 program (or any earnings thereon) up to two times in any calendar year (currently, no investment direction is allowed).
Title II: Offsets- (Sec. 201) Amends title II (Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Benefits) of the Social Security Act to change the age at which disability benefits are no longer subject to reductions from 65 to the normal retirement age range as set forth in such Act.
(Sec. 202) Amends title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act to: (1) accelerate the beginning date for adjustments of relative value targets for misvalued services in Medicare physician fee schedules from 2017 to 2016; and (2) treat items and services for vacuum erection systems furnished on and after July 1, 2015, in the same manner as erectile dysfunction drugs for purposes of defining covered drugs under Medicare part D. (Sec. 204) Amends the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 to delay to January 1, 2025, the implementation of oral-only end stage renal disease (ESRD)-related drugs in the ESRD prospective payment system.
(Sec. 205) Amends the Internal Revenue Code to increase the Inland Waterways Trust Fund financing rate to 29 cents per gallon for fuel used after March 31, 2015.
(Sec. 206) Amends the Internal Revenue Code to treat Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-certified professional employer organizations (PEOs) as employers for employment tax purposes (thus allowing such PEOs to pay wages and collect and remit payroll taxes on behalf of an employer).
Sets forth IRS certification requirements for PEOs, including independent financial review and reporting requirements. Requires a PEO, each year, to post a bond equal to the greater of 5% of the PEO's liability during the preceding calendar year (not exceeding $1 million) or $50,000.
(Sec. 207) Amends the Internal Revenue Code to exclude dividends received by a U.S. shareholder from a controlled foreign corporation from the definition of "personal holding company income" for purposes of personal holding company taxation.
(Sec. 208) Amends the Internal Revenue Code to require an annual inflation adjustment to tax penalty amounts for: (1) failure to file a tax return or pay tax, (2) failure to file certain information returns or registration statements, (3) noncompliance of tax return preparers, (4) failure to file partnership or S corporation returns, and (5) failure to file correct information returns or correct payee statements.
(Sec. 209) Amends the Internal Revenue Code to increase from 15 to 30% the rate of the continuous levy on payments due to a Medicare provider or supplier for overdue taxes.