Washington Watch March-April 2013
Achieving a Better Life Experience: The ABLE Act
Every VRC has worked with individuals who are afraid to earn too much money because of the impact on their public benefits. The ABLE Act, introduced in Congress on Feb. 13, would allow families or individuals to set funds aside in a tax-advantaged savings account and no longer be afraid of losing their benefits because they have resources. Specifically, it would allow individuals with significant disabilities a means to cover the extra costs of everyday activities and community participation, including health care, employment support, housing, transportation, technology and lifelong education. The funds would supplement but not replace benefits provided through Medicaid, Social Security and private insurance. Income earned on amounts contributed to an ABLE Account would be tax exempt and not counted as part of any asset limits for federal program eligibility. The accounts suspend SSI when they reach $100,000. Once an account falls below $100,000 the SSI is reinstated. This legislation is key to providing a pathway to a better economic future for persons with disabilities and their families. The bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on Health on Feb. 15.
PROMISE Grants: Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income
The PROMISE program was proposed by the Administration to improve the education and career outcomes of low income children with disabilities receiving Supplemental Security Income. It advances the Administration’s goal of fostering collaboration to improve services and drive innovation among such Federal and State programs as Vocational Rehabilitation, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Medicaid, Job Corps, TANF and the Workforce Investment Act. Governors may apply for multi-year grants to build effective partnerships and deliver coordinated services. Grants are for three years with a possible two year extension. Estimated range of awards is $4,500,000 to $10,000,000 per year. The desired outcomes of PROMISE are increased educational attainment, improved rates of employment wages/earnings and job retention, increased total household income and long-term reduction in SSI payments.