July 26 marks the 33rd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act by President George H.W. Bush, a day recognized as National Disability Independence Day. This landmark piece of legislation requires that people with disabilities be treated with equal dignity and prohibited discrimination against individuals with disabilities in schools, the workplace, transportation and all other public accommodations.
Appropriately, just a few days ago, we celebrated what would have been Bob Dole’s 100th birthday. Senator Dole lived for more than 76 years with the injuries he sustained while serving in Italy during World War II. His ability to empathize with others living with disabilities led him to help pass the ADA while serving as the Republican Leader in the U.S. Senate. He often listed passage of the ADA among his proudest accomplishments during his 27 years representing Kansas in the U.S. Senate.
While the ADA was groundbreaking for its progress toward disability independence, the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, passed a little less than a decade ago, built on the ADA by opening up the opportunity for financial independence for Americans living with a disability. Under the ABLE Act, the Kansas State Treasurer’s Office offers people with disabilities ABLE accounts that they can use to save and invest their own funds. Money in an ABLE account is generally not counted as assets when determining eligibility for benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.
Before the ABLE Act passed in 2014, people receiving SSI, Medicaid and many other federal benefits could only save up to $2,000 to remain qualified; this limit made reaching independence virtually impossible. The establishment of ABLE accounts provides a way around this limit. By using an ABLE account, people with disabilities can save up to $100,000 without losing their benefits. Like the ADA, the ABLE Act helps break down barriers restricting Americans living with disabilities.
Any interest earned on ABLE accounts is tax-deferred and withdrawals are tax-free if used for qualified disability expenses. Qualified expenses encompass a wide range of categories, including education, housing, transportation, health and wellness, basic living expenses, and many others.
To be eligible to open an ABLE account, the person’s disability must have onset before the age of 26. However, thanks to the recent passage of the ABLE Age Adjustment Act, that will increase to age 46 beginning January 1, 2026, making even more people eligible to save through an ABLE account.
Learn more about ABLE accounts or get started saving today at https://KS.SaveWithABLE.com.