Michelle Diament, Disability Scoop - February 21, 2014
If passed, the ABLE Act would allow people with disabilities to accumulate up to $100,000 for major expenses, without losing eligibility for Medicaid and other benefits that currently depend on keeping assets extremely low. Many of the most important support benefits require keeping any savings below $2,000. This not only prevents people from saving for future needs and major investments in education and adaptive equipment, it also is a major disincentive to people with disabilities attempting to work and earn their own living.
A quote from the Disability Scoop article I think hints that lawmakers who support the ABLE Act now understand something fundamental about benefits and people with disabilities. Sara Weir, of the National Down Syndrome Society says that the ABLE Act would allow people with disabilities to, "go out and get a job and pay for their own expenses and not be so dependent on the federal government for everything.” This is key. It’s not that we would no longer need government benefits for anything, it’s that we wouldn’t need them for everything. Think about what a huge difference that potentially makes.
My worry is that the Congressional Budget Office report will say that this would make thousands more people eligible for benefits, and therefore cost the government a lot more money. We need to prepare to argue either that the cost isn’t that big, or that whatever the cost, it is justified and at least partially counteracted by the increased economic activity of more of us working and paying taxes.