The ABLE Act: Opportunity for Congress to make a difference

There is a single piece of legislation, the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (S. 313/H.R. 647), before the U.S. Congress that has earned the bipartisan support of at least 312 representatives and 51 senators. 

This bill would ease financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities by making tax-free savings accounts available, through the current 529 program, so individuals with disabilities and their families can save to cover qualified expenses such as postsecondary education, housing, transportation, workforce development, and medical expenses not covered by insurance. 

Recently, Sens. Bob CaseyBob CaseyDems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare Enough bickering, time to stay focused on important issues: Pennsylvania holds keys in Clinton-Trump tilt MORE (D-Pa.) and Richard BurrRichard BurrSenate rivals gear up for debates The Trail 2016: Trump seizes on Charlotte violence Polls: Dem Senate candidates lead in three states MORE (R-N.C.) and Reps. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersIvanka sells Trump childcare to Capitol Hill Ivanka Trump to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill Trump calls congresswoman to stage at child care policy speech MORE (R-Wash.), and Pete Sessions (R-Texas), the ABLE Act's bipartisan, bicameral Congressional champions, teamed up to call on their Congressional colleagues to pass the ABLE Act before the end of the year. 

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By enacting the ABLE Act, we aren't asking Congress to create a new program or give us a hand out, we are asking Congress to give the disability community the chance to provide and save for themselves through savings tools that all other Americans have access to today. 

Over 100 stakeholder organizations have endorsed the ABLE Act. The bill also earned the backing of lawmakers ideologically ranging from  Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders discourages third-party votes: 'Not the time for a protest vote' Trump: Sanders supporters 'like Trump on trade, a lot' Sunday shows preview: Both sides gear up for debate MORE (I-Vt.) to Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioSenate rivals gear up for debates Rubio: End of Obama's term could be 'most damaging yet' Fifteen years since pivotal executive order, STORM Act could help fight terror finance MORE (R-Fla.) in the Senate and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) in the House of Representatives. 

Not only does the ABLE Act allow savings for the future, it creates incentives to employment for individuals with disabilities by allowing individuals to contribute to their own ABLE accounts and seek out employment opportunities without the fear of losing Medicaid and SSI because of the outdated asset and income limitations, which prevent many individuals with disabilities from employment today.

The 113th Congress has an opportunity to put partisan politics aside, and do what's right for people with disabilities and their families and pass the ABLE Act this year. 

Weir, MS, is the vice president of Advocacy & Affilate Relations for the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) and Steve Beck is a board member & chair of the National Government Affairs Committee of the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS).