Congress Proposes Tax-Deferred Savings Accounts for People with Special Needs

A bill that would create tax-deferred savings accounts for people with special needs has been introduced in the House and Senate. If passed, the new legislation would allow family members, friends, or a person with special needs to place up to $500,000 of funds into an "ABLE" (Achieving a Better Life Experience) account that functions much like an IRA or 529 College Savings Account, with the income generated by the account accumulating without taxation.

Under the proposed legislation, the accounts will be initially available only to individuals who qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The accounts would be titled in the name of the SSI beneficiary, but funds up to $500,000 placed in such accounts will not qualify as available resources and will not prevent a beneficiary from continuing to receive benefits. Furthermore, distributions from the accounts, so long as they are made for the benefit of the person with disabilities, will not count as a part of their income for purposes of SSI.

According to a press release from Sen. Bob Casey's (D-PA) office, anyone will be able to transfer money into an ABLE account and rollovers from other accounts will be possible. Like an IRA, the funds in an ABLE account will accumulate tax-free interest during the beneficiary's lifetime. Finally, should someone become disabled later in life, he would be allowed to roll over a previously existing IRA or 529 account into an ABLE account in order to qualify for benefits.

Autism Speaks, an advocacy group for people living with autism, has a detailed summary of the ABLE act, along with information about how to contact your representative or senator to encourage their support of the bill. Click here for more information.

To read the text of the Senate bill, click here.

To read the text of the House bill, click here.

Article Last Modified: 03/16/2009