Governor signs bill to help set aside money for people with disabilities

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Abilities, not disabilities, were the big talking points of Monday’s bill signing; the message rang especially true for Alex, a young boy with Down Syndrome.

“Alex is a bright boy,” his mom, Cecilia Lee, told ABC27. “He is an inspiration for a lot of people around him. He teaches us more than we teach him.”

“A lot of people say he reads and writes better than some of his peers,” Lee added.

But like many other mothers, she knows she won’t always be around to help her child with his abilities or disabilities.

“It was very hard to plan plan a future, with you know, limited funds.”

On Monday, some of that changed for Lee and families all over Pennsylvania. Governor Wolf visited The Vista School, an educational facility for students with Autism, to sign the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, also known as ABLE.

Before, it was possible to set aside money for family members with disabilities. However, once the account went above $2,000, those family members became ineligible for important benefits.

Under the ABLE Act, families can set up to $100,000 aside in a tax-free account. It is similar to a 529 college savings plan and keeps those families from losing access to Medical Assistance and other means-tested federal programs.

The Governor’s Office says the new law will involve $1.5 million in start-up costs.

The measure has bi-partisan support.

“This is not a Republican or Democratic thing,” Governor Wolf said. “It’s not liberal or conservative, it’s just a right thing.”

“We believe in a very fundamental way that people with disabilities have a lot of ability if we give them the tools and the resources to lead a full life,” U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D, PA) said.

To learn more about starting an account, click on this link:

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