PA Treasurer Joe Torsella today announced the opening of the Pennsylvania Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) Savings Program that provides tax-exempt accounts for individuals with qualified disabilities and their families, during an event at the state Capitol with more than 200 disability advocates, their families, state lawmakers and US Senator Bob Casey, sponsor of the federal legislation.
Sara Wolff of Moscow, PA and Michael Anderson of Merion, PA became Pennsylvania's first two account holders.
"PA ABLE allows people with disabilities and their families to save, without jeopardizing eligibility for needed assistance," Torsella said. "It allows for greater control and flexibility to achieve a more secure financial future. It allows for hope, that Pennsylvanians with disabilities can live a life of independence."
The Pennsylvania ABLE Act follows passage of federal legislation by Pennsylvania's U.S. Senator Bob Casey that authorized states to create ABLE programs. Modeled after college savings accounts, ABLE accounts allow individuals with qualifying disabilities and their families to save for a wide range of disability-related expenses tax-free and provides investment options offered to encourage saving private funds to support health, independence and quality of life.
ABLE saving accounts are excluded from eligibility determinations for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits (savings up to $100,000), other means-tested federal programs, Medical Assistance, and other state means-tested disability and health benefits programs on which individuals with disabilities must often depend.
Citing that it had been almost one year ago exactly that the state celebrated the passage of PA ABLE, U.S. Senator Bob Casey said, "It has been a long road getting to this point and there are so many people here who made this day possible. Today, Pennsylvania parents can open ABLE accounts for their children, and with that, provide their children some long-term financial security, and gain some peace of mind. We all believe that people with disabilities can not only contribute substantially to our quality of life and the success of our nation, but if we give them some tools, they can lead as full a life as possible."
Under the PA ABLE Savings program, eligible individuals can:
- Save up to $14,000 each year.
- Grow accounts tax-free.
- Use account to pay for a wide range of disability-related expenses.
- Make federal and state income tax-free withdrawals when used for qualified disability expenses.
- Open accounts that are exempt from Pennsylvania inheritance tax.
State Senator Lisa Baker said, "When we meet and talk to the families, we come away impressed by their caring, their commitment, and the extreme difficulty of coping with challenges – financial, physical, and emotional – that are hard to imagine. It is nice for state officials to express sympathy for their circumstances; it is better when we act to make life less daunting."
To help you learn about the important features and benefits of PA ABLE, the Pennsylvania Treasury Department is hosting free webinars throughout the month of April. More information can be found here.
Interested families and other can visit the Treasury www.paable.gov website for more information on the ABLE savings program, sign up for updates or open an account.