ABLE Act gives hope to the disabled

Traci and Katie Lambert visited Congress to lobby for the ABLE Act.

An act before Congress could help people with disabilities save money for their futures.

The ABLE Act, or Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, would amend section 529 of the IRS code to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities.

Currently, those with disabilities are limited to $2,000 in assets.

â??People with disabilities quite often qualify for different state assistance, government assistance, SSI,â?? said Traci Lambert, mother of an eight year old with Down syndrome.

If they accrue more savings, it means losing government assistance.

â??The problem is you have all these kids who are growing up and wanting to go to college and get jobs and be part of their communities,â?? said Steve Beck, chair of the National Down Syndrome Society. â??You constantly have this restriction on them just so they can keep access to those benefits.â??

Lambert and her daughter are lobbying congress for help.

The past few years, sheâ??s gone to Washington, trying to get help for her daughter Katie. In February, Katie met congressional leaders on the Hill as part of the 2014 Buddy Walk.

â??Most kids, when they leave the nest, they can go to college, get a job, save money. They can save for everything. That holds people back with disabilities,â?? said Lambert.

So far, the ABLE Act has the support.

â??It's so close. It's so close to passing,â?? said Lambert. â??If it were to go to the floor today, if Dave Camp released the bill and said vote on it, or however that works, it would pass.â??

For now, the act is stuck in the Ways and Means committee because of how the act is scored, or the perceived cost to taxpayers.

â??It's looking and saying if we establish these accounts, the lost tax revenue over this ten year period will be about roughly $1.3b,â?? said Beck.

The money in the account provided by the ABLE Act could pay for disability related expenses.

â??Anything from school and healthcare, to transportation and job support and housing,â?? explained Beck. â??We really feel like this is the next step forward for people with disabilities.â??

Lambert wants what is best for her daughter's independence.

â??They don't want to live off their parents. They want to be independent. They want to have their own place, they have a job, get married, buy a house. For me, it's empowering to see young adults with Down syndrome and actually see how independent they are and how just like us they are. Everybody's different, but we're the same in wants, needs, and desires.â??

Representative Dave Camp chairs the Ways and Means committee where the ABLE Act is stuck. Camp has not yet responded to several requests for an interview or statement.

The Ways and Means committee is waiting for the results from another score conducted by the Congressional Budget Office. That score could be available any day.