Schumer visits Syracuse to push for ABLE Act savings plan

Aug 7, 2014

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is pushing for a new tax-advantaged savings account that will help families with disabilities. Schumer visited Syracuse to offer support to families that are looking for passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act.

Families with members who are disabled are often put in a hard place financially. In order to get certain government disability aid, their income has to stay below a certain level. That makes it harder to save for things like college, or some of the other extra costs that families with disabled members face -- things like healthcare, special education and transportation.

Darin Yoder has two children with Down Syndrome, and says this kind of account would be perfect for his son.

“C.J. is going to be a freshman at Nottingham High School," Yoder explained. "We’re having him start his own business. This would give him a place to put his profits without jeopardizing his Medicaid.”

He says the issue is that families can’t have too much in savings, or they risk losing services.

“If Medicaid is jeopardized, people are forced to stay in poverty into perpetuity," Yoder said. "What we’re trying to do is remove that barrier, to turn Gracie and C.J. into taxpayers instead of tax users.”

Yoder says, ultimately, the ABLE Act will allow his son to rely less on government services in the future if he wants to go to college or get a job. These accounts would be similar to 529 plans used by families to save for college.

He adds that these accounts would help individuals pay for some of the medical care, education and support services that are getting harder to find.

“The fact is that the population is growing significantly and the service sector can’t keep up," Yoder said. "So we need to empower families as much as we can to be (self) sustaining.”

Schumer says he would like to see the bill, which has bipartisan support, in place before next summer.

"At the end of the day, this bill should pass easily," Schumer said. "It’s a tax break. It’s a tax break for people who are caring, and helping individuals who need some help."