The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations applauds the passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (“ABLE”) Act of 2014 in the House of Representatives. The bill passed by a vote of 404—17.

The OU Advocacy Center, together with Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities (also an OU agency), has supported the ABLE Act for several years.

The ABLE Act will amend the Internal Revenue Code to establish tax-exempt accounts for families of individuals with disabilities. Funds from these accounts could be used for expenses such as transportation, education, housing, and employment services.

The ABLE Act would also allow individuals with disabilities to have full-time employment and still qualify for Medicaid, which in turn allows these individuals to take control of their finances and be fully participating members of the workforce.

Many American families struggle with the cost of basic and special needs of those with disabilities, and acquiring any substantial savings often disqualifies one from government aid. It is important, therefore, that having an ABLE account would not disqualify one from Medicaid, and up to $100,000 can be saved without suspension from Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The OU commends U.S. Representatives Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and the many other sponsors of the bill. “Too often, those with disabilities are required to focus only on meeting their expenses, rather than achieving their potential, which should not be the case,” said Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center. “The ABLE Act will deliver meaningful help to families with special needs members. We hope the Senate will follow the House in passing this bill and providing invaluable support to thousands of Americans.”

“Yachad and the Orthodox Union have been advocating for the ABLE Act for several years,” said Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, international director of Yachad. “It is essential that this act be passed to begin to level the playing field for families who have a child with special needs.”


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