1. The ABLE Act in the 113th Congress - Publication of the Week

    Screen shot of ABLE Act Info SheetThis short two-page document, published by the office of Sen. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), gives an overview of the ABLE Act, which was reintroduced to congress this month (S. 313 and H.R. 647) by Sen. Crenshaw and Sen. Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA). The ABLE Act was created to encourage and assist individuals and families in saving private funds for the purpose of supporting individuals with disabilities to maintain health, independence, and a better quality of life.

    Learn more about the ABLE Act: www.realeconomicimpact.org/Public-Policy/ABLE-Act.aspx

  2. National ABLE Act Call-In Day - Wed. April 25

    National ABLE Act Call In DayTomorrow, National Disability Institute will co-host National ABLE Act Call-In Day to ask members of Congress to cosponsor this important legislation. Follow the hashtag #passtheABLEact on Twitter Wednesday for real-time updates on National ABLE Act Call-In Day.

    With bipartisan support, Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) in the U.S. House of Representatives and Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) in the U.S. Senate reintroduced the the ABLE Act earlier this year in an effort to encourage and assist individuals with disabilities and their families to set funds aside in a tax-advantaged savings account that allows the funds to be withdrawn to cover costs of health care, employment support, housing, transportation, the purchase of technology and lifelong education. The funds will supplement but not replace benefits provided through Medicaid, Social Security and private insurance, allowing families with sons or daughters with significant disabilities a means to provide for extra costs associated with every day activities and community participation. The income earned on amounts contributed to an ABLE Account would be tax exempt and not counted as part of any asset limits for eligibility to federal programs. Learn more about the ABLE Act at our website.

    As of today, the ABLE Act has 134 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and 14 in the Senate. National Disability Institute hopes these numbers will continue to rise and joins eight other co-hosts for ABLE Act Call-In Day:

    • National Down Syndrome Society
    • Autism Speaks
    • D.A.D.S. National
    • Muscular Dystrophy Association
    • National Down Syndrome Congress
    • National Fragile X Foundation
    • The Disability Opportunity Fund
    • Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination

    Take Action - Easy as 1-2-3

    Help us continue the push for the ABLE Act by urging your representatives to cosponsor the bill.

    1. Find out if your two Senators and your Representative have signed onto the ABLE Act by clicking on the links below (under cosponsors):

    House: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr3423

    Senate: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/s1872

    If any of your Members have NOT signed onto the ABLE Act, please call their Washington, DC offices (find out who your representatives are and how to contact their DC office).

    Begin the call by introducing yourself and asking to speak with your Member’s disability legislative staffer. (Note: You may need to leave a voice mail or call back, if the disability staffer does not answer).

    2. Follow this ABLE Act phone script:

    Once you have the staffer on the line, open and introduce yourself with:

    • “Hello, I am calling to ask my [Senator/Representative] to be a cosponsor of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.”
    • I am a constituent from your [State/District] and am a self-advocate, parent, sibling, grandparent, etc. from the [insert disability] community.

    Talking Points to Mentions During Your Call: 

    • The ABLE Act (S. 1872/HR 3423) currently has over 134 cosponsors in the House and 14 in the Senate. This bipartisan bill was introduced by:
      • Senators Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) as S. 1872
      • Representatives Crenshaw (R-FL), McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Van Hollen (D-MD) as H.R. 3423
    • The bill has been endorsed by over 50 national, state, and local disability organizations.
    • This bill would utilize the 529 education saving accounts program with which thousands of Americans are already familiar. As with the existing 529 accounts, contributions to ABLE accounts would grow tax free and would be easy and inexpensive to create.
    • The ABLE Act will give individuals with disabilities and their families the ability to plan and save for their child’s future just like every other American family, and help people with disabilities live full, productive lives in their communities without losing benefits provided through private insurances, the Medicaid program, the supplemental security income program, the beneficiary’s employment, and other sources.
    • The account could fund a variety of essential expenses for individuals, including medical and dental care, education, community based supports, employment training, assistive technology, housing, and transportation.
    • The ABLE Act provides individuals with disabilities the same types of flexible savings tools that all other Americans have through college savings accounts, health savings accounts, and individual retirement accounts.

    If your Member is interested in signing on as a cosponsor, please have them contact:

    Senate: Sen. Casey/Jennifer McCloskey (Jennifer_Mccloskey@casey.senate.gov)

    House: Rep. Crenshaw/Jennifer Debes (Jennifer.Debes@mail.house.gov)

    3. Let Us Know About Your Call: Please let us know about your conversation. Email info@ndi-inc.org to let us know who you spoke with and what they had to say about the bill. We can help by following up with their DC office. For more information about the ABLE Act, please use the following resources:

    The ABLE Act in the 112th Congress - One Page Summary Sheet

    National Disability Institute Supports Reintroduction of ABLE Act in Congress

  3. NATIONAL DISABILITY INSTITUTE JOINS DISABILITY ORGANIZATIONS ON CAPITOL HILL TO BRIEF CONGRESS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ABLE ACT

    ABLE Act will help the 1 in 3 individuals with disabilities living in poverty and their families take important steps toward economic self-sufficiency and independence

    (Washington, D.C. – Feb. 16, 2012) – National Disability Institute joined Congressional leaders and other national disability organizations on Capitol Hill today to advocate for the passage of the Achieve a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, legislation long championed by National Disability Institute as a key to providing a pathway to a better economic future for persons with disabilities and their families.

    National Disability Institute as well as Autism Speaks, The ARC and the National Down Syndrome Society joined original bill sponsors Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) and Sen. Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA) on a panel of experts to outline the impact the ABLE Act’s tax-free savings accounts will have for millions of Americans with disabilities and their families. Also included on the panel were staff members from the Joint Economic Committee and the offices of Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).

    The ABLE Act, re-introduced by Rep. Crenshaw and Sen. Casey in November 2011, is designed to encourage and assist individuals with disabilities and their families to set funds aside in a tax-advantaged savings account that allows the funds to be withdrawn to cover costs of health care, housing, transportation, the purchase of technology and lifelong education. The funds will supplement but not replace benefits provided through Medicaid, Social Security and private insurance, allowing families with sons or daughters with significant disabilities a means to provide for extra costs associated with every day activities and community participation.

    “This legislation is the most critical since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to promote the independence and productivity of individuals with disabilities and their families.” said Michael Morris, National Disability Institute’s Executive Director.

    As the first national disability organization committed exclusively to championing economic empowerment, National Disability Institute supports the passage of the ABLE Act and continues to promote public policy changes that encourage work, saving and asset development for people with disabilities that reduce dependence on public benefits. The ABLE Act was introduced originally in 2009 the 111th Congress and had more than 200 cosponsors in the House and 20 in the Senate. Time ran out before Congress moved the legislation forward.

    National Disability Institute will continue to join with organizations and individuals in the disability community to educate Congress about the importance of this vital public policy change.

  4. New Issue of the Washington Insider Newsletter Published!

    Screenshot of Spring 2011 Issue of Washington InsiderThe National Disability Institute’s Washington Insider is a monthly newsletter highlighting key federal policy news related to key NDI priority areas. The Washington Insider will track legislative and policy initiatives in the areas of taxation, asset building, and economic development that specifically impact people with disabilities and are gaining momentum in Washington.

    Check out this month’s issue or sign up nowto recieve the Washington Insider via email each month.

  5. News: NDI Holds Board of Directors Meeting in Washington, DC

    Last week, the National Disability Institute Board of Directors met in Washington DC. The Board and senior staff reviewed and discussed current organziation activities and focused on legislative initiatives to advance a better economic future for people with disabilities nationwide.

    Board members visited wtih Congressional staff to provide information about four key bills:

    1. ABLE Act
    2. SWFA Act
    3. SSI Saver’s Act
    4. VITA Matching Grant Program / VITA Act