NCD Letter of Support for Introduction of ABLE Age Adjustment Act

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April 1, 2019

The Honorable Tony Cárdenas
U.S. House of Representatives
2438 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington DC 20515

The Honorable Cathy McMorris Rodgers
U.S. House of Representatives
1035 Longworth House Office Building
Washington DC 20515

Dear Congressman Cárdenas and Congresswoman McMorris Rogers:

I write on behalf of the National Council on Disability (NCD), a non-partisan federal agency that advises the President and Congress regarding disability policy issues, to note our support of the introduction of the Able Age Adjustment Act (H.R. 1814/S. 651). This law would strengthen the existing ABLE Act by allowing more people with disabilities to the opportunity to build assets without jeopardizing access to irreplaceable public benefits. Additionally, expanding access to ABLE to a larger pool of beneficiaries will strengthen the program and make it more sustainable and effective over time.

The ABLE Act has already improved the lives of thousands of people with disabilities, with approximately 35,000 ABLE Accounts open nationwide with $170 million assets as of 2018, including the largest in the nation Ohio “STABLE Account” program which recently topped 10,500 account holders. However, despite some encouraging trends, ABLE is not on a sustainable path long-term unless more people access the program in order to spread the cost of managing the accounts and reducing individual fees. Currently, the fees associated with having an ABLE account are manageable, but in order for these accounts to remain affordable for people with disabilities, the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) estimates that 450,000 ABLE accounts will need to be opened nationwide between now and June of 2021. NCD is engaged with stakeholders at the state and federal levels to improve implementation and increase utilization of the ABLE program, and we anticipate that the impact of these efforts would be compounded by increasing the number of people who are able to open ABLE accounts.

In addition to improving the long-term outlook of the ABLE program, providing access to this important tool for asset development to people who acquired their disability after age twenty-six represents an important step towards achieving the ADA’s goals of equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for all Americans with disabilities. By encouraging beneficiaries of means-tested programs such as SSI, Medicaid, housing assistance and food stamps to save money for training, education and disability-related expenses, the ABLE program encourages individuals to work and plan for their futures and provides an important pathway out of poverty. NCD believes that this path should be accessible to all individuals with disabilities, and this bill is a substantial step in that direction. NCD commends you for your work on this bill and looks forward to educating policy makers about the importance of this bill.

Respectfully,

Neil Romano
Chairman