The "Achieving a Better Life Experience" (ABLE) account program allows the creation of federally recognized investment accounts similar to 529 college savings programs for individuals with disabilities. Family members and loved ones can deposit money into the accounts, to be invested on the individual's behalf. When the child reaches adulthood, funds can be used to offset qualified expenses related to education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology and personal support services, health prevention and wellness, financial management services, and more.
"As a mom, I know all parents want their kids to have every opportunity for a better, brighter future," said Raimondo. "This legislation builds on federal legislation and empowers families of people with disabilities to secure funding for the services their kids will need to live safe, healthy, adult lives, and represents a smart step towards building stronger, healthier communities and a healthier Rhode Island economy."
"Children who suffer from disabilities are just as deserving of a rich and fulfilling life than those children who are fortunate enough to pursue higher education," said Treasurer Magaziner. "Under this new law, our state will provide an affordable, tax-efficient savings plan to help families save for the costs of helping a child with disabilities make the transition into adulthood."
An individual is eligible for an account if he or she has a physical or development disability that occurred before age 26. ABLE accounts will not qualify as assets for determining income eligibility for state or local assistance programs, such as Medicaid. As many assistance programs require people to have little to no assets, this legislation will help will help families access the services needed by children with disabilities when they transition out of school and related programs.
The legislation was sponsored by Senator Adam Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick) and Representative Robert A. Nardolillo (R-Dist. 28, Coventry).
"Families of disabled children face many challenges, including uncertainty about their child's future," said Satchell. "With this new law, we are providing a new tool that a family can use to provide a measure of security for their child, and helping them save and invest to provide for his or her needs later on. The ABLE program is an innovative way families can responsibly ensure a better life for their children without jeopardizing their opportunities for assistance in the future."
"I entered my freshman year to help improve the quality of life for people in need, and it is incredibly gratifying to see this important legislation passed into law," said Nardolillo. "RI now joins many other states that took action, following the necessary federal approval, to empower members of the disability community and provide this helpful new way to save for the lifetime needs of people with disabilities. I extend many thanks to the Treasurer and his staff for providing their support and guidance. It was also a great pleasure to work with Senator Satchell through this legislative process, and I deeply respect his great desire to help those in the disabled community."
The bill signing ceremony was held at the Cornerstone School in Cranston, which offers a continuum of educational and therapeutic services to children with complex cognitive, physical and major medical needs.