SCRANTON — U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella jointly hosted — along other legislators and several advocates for people with disabilities — a resource fair to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Pennsylvania Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (PA ABLE).
The PA ABLE Savings Program provides tax-exempt accounts for individuals with qualified disabilities and their families and allows them to save sums greater than $2,000 without jeopardizing the benefits they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
PA ABLE has had the fastest-growing program of any of the 13 states in the National ABLE Alliance. To date, the PA ABLE Savings Program exceeds $6.7 million in assets, and has 1,234 individual accounts opened.
“I have always believed that people with disabilities can contribute substantially to our quality of life and to the success of our nation,” Casey said in a news release. “The ABLE Act recognizes that understanding and helps empower individuals with disabilities and their families to save meaningfully for the future.”
The Pennsylvania ABLE Act follows passage of federal legislation by Casey that authorized states to create ABLE programs. Modeled after 529 college savings accounts, ABLE accounts allow disabled individuals and their families to save for a wide range of disability-related expenses tax-free. They also provide investment options.
“Since the launch of the PA ABLE Savings Program, I’ve had the opportunity to hear firsthand how the program has transformed lives,” said treasurer Torsella, a Berwick native. “I’ve seen the pride of someone who, for the first time, had money saved in their checking account to write their first check — something many of us simply take for granted. Each story is different, but the theme remains the same: Finally, a Pennsylvanian with a disability is able to live more independently without fear of harmful consequences to their supplemental support because of PA ABLE.”
ABLE savings accounts are excluded from eligibility determinations for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits (savings up to $100,000, with exceptions), other means-tested federal programs, Medical Assistance, and other state programs on which the disabled must often depend.
Held at Marywood University, the resource fair had PA ABLE representatives on-site and available to answer questions or assist with the enrollment process. It also featured partners from The ARC of Northeastern Pennsylvania; The Center for Independent Living; United Cerebral Palsy of NEPA; the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties; and the Technology Assisted Children’s Home Program.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.