Monday, June 22, 2015

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) is Now Texas Law

By Anna Hundley

I am pleased to report Governor Greg Abbott has signed the Texas ABLE Act into law. If you haven’t been following this legislation, the acronym stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience. I am excited for the families who will now be able to better plan for their child’s future financial needs to help cover the high costs of education, housing, transportation, medical bills, and other expenses related to their disability.

This is a very big step in providing new tools to help Texas families touched by autism to invest in their child’s future while paying for costly day-to-day needs. Families will be able to add up to $14,000 per year toward the ABLE accounts with a much-higher overall cap to pay for expenses. Once the Texas Comptroller’s office establishes the rules and regulations for the tax-free ABLE accounts, Texas families begin to set aside funds to pay for day-to-day expenses without jeopardizing an individual’s SSI or Medicaid benefits.

It has been a long journey in getting this much-needed legislation passed. On the federal level, I would like to thank Congressman Pete Sessions for his leadership in representing the Dallas area. As a father to a son with special needs, he understands the real struggle families sometimes face.

In the Texas Legislature, it was truly a team effort from all members to get this legislation passed. This legislation also showed that when it comes to helping families with disabilities, there are no party labels. In the Texas Senate, the vote was unanimous. In the Texas House, the vote was 138-1. I am proud of all Republicans and Democrats who put aside partisan politics for the good of Texas.

At the Autism Treatment Center, we are fond of saying that our programs Change Lives and Build Futures. ABLE accounts will provide ATC with more resources to help us fulfill our mission to “assist people with autism and related disorders throughout their lives as they learn, play, work and live in the community.”

As more information is made available about setting up ABLE accounts, we will gladly share with you to use in your decision-making process to best meet future financial needs for your family.