In my last post I encouraged you to test out the advocacy waters by sending a short email to one of your elected officials.
Today I have a specific “ask” for you. (That’s some policy jargon for you – an “ask” is the thing you write about or have a meeting about.)
There is a piece of legislation sitting in Congress right now. It has bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. It needs our voices – parents, grandparents, friends, self-advocates – to get going. Today, April 25, has been designated as National ABLE Act Call-In Day.
The “Achieving a Better Life Experience” (ABLE) act would allow individuals with disabilities to have a savings account that can be used toward living expenses, education, medical expenses, assistive technology, job training, and other supports.
The best thing about this act? The money in this account does not count against the individual’s cash asset limits if he or she is drawing Social Security Disability Income or receiving Medicaid.
This is absolutely revolutionary.
For decades, individuals with disabilities – capable of working, wanting to work – have been forced below the poverty line due to stringent rules regulating SSDI and Medicaid. The cash asset limit in place to continue participating in these programs is an absolute joke, and essentially prevents individuals with disabilities who require Medicaid for health insurance from obtaining meaningful work for meaningful pay. Individuals whose disabilities make it difficult to work a standard 40 hour work week instead must live off SSDI, which is a poverty-level amount.
This act would make it possible for families of individuals with disabilities, and the individuals themselves, to save money in this special account so that they can live a more meaningful life of their choosing. These accounts are meant to supplement SSDI while still keeping the person eligible for Medicaid.
Here are a few more benefits of the bill:
- will be regulated at the federal level so these accounts can cross state lines without problem
- can be held in the individual’s name or in a parent’s name
- money can be used at any point in the individual’s life – does not need to wait until adulthood
- if a family has already been saving money in a traditional savings account, money can be rolled over without penalty
If you’re interested in taking action, there are a few things you can do.
First, check to see if your Representative and Senators are already sponsors of the bill. If they are, send them an email or call them to thank them for their support. (Links to finding your elected officials can be found in the sidebar of this blog.)
If they aren’t sponsors, send an email or give them a call. You may feel like your rep is too busy to talk to you or read your email. Rest assured that staffers are important players in this, and a conversation with a staffer is still a step in the right direction. Also, each office counts the number of “contacts” they get for or against a bill – so your voice will still be heard! If you need help wording your email or conversation, check out these talking points from the National Down Syndrome Society.
- If you like to tweet, disability advocates across the country are using the hashtag: #passtheABLEact
- If you are a blogger, consider posting something about the act and rallying others to action.
- If you like to use Facebook, consider posting something about the act.
- If you are part of a parent group, support group, or other disability-related organization – send them the info.
There are a lot of different ways you can let Congress know you support this bill. Ready to take some action?