Critical Issues Forum with CFPB: National ABLE

Event Description

On Friday July 8, 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and World Institute on Disability (WID) hosted a forum to discuss a new savings opportunity designed for consumers with disabilities to save and invest up to $100,000 in a tax-advantaged Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Account without risking federal benefits. At the Ed Roberts Campus, we convened policymakers, funders, financial institutions, practitioners, and leaders and consumers from the disability community to learn about the ABLE Act and innovative state savings programs and emerging opportunities to increase the financial well-being of people with disabilities and their families.

In 2014, the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act was signed into law with strong bipartisan support. Under the federal ABLE Act legislation, each state can establish and operate tax-advantage ABLE savings accounts for children and adults with disabilities. States that create ABLE Account programs will allow consumers with disabilities and their families to more easily save and invest without losing eligibility for certain public benefits programs such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, and Social Security Disability Insurance, commonly referred to as SSI and SSDI.

Presentation Description: Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE):  Federal and State Implementation

We heard from national leaders who were instrumental in the ABLE Act and state leaders who have recently launched ABLE Accounts in Ohio and Nebraska.

Sara Weir from the National Down Syndrome Society and National ABLE Alliance provided a historical perspective on the passage of this landmark legislation and ongoing federal legislative efforts to strengthen ABLE.

Juliana Crist from the Ohio Office of State Treasurer described the features of Ohio’s ABLE program, known as STABLE accounts, which are available to individuals with disabilities across the country.

Deborah Goodkin from First Bank of Omaha shared the mechanics of Nebraska’s ABLE program, known as ENABLE savings accounts, available to individuals with disabilities in the U.S.

Presentation Description:  The Need for Savings: Reflections from Consumers with Disabilities

We heard from consumers with disabilities about the financial challenges they face and opportunities presented by new ABLE accounts and other savings innovations.

Alex Ghenis from the World Institute on Disability discussed his experience as a student and young worker.

Christina Mills from the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers shared her perspective as a mother with children with disabilities and wife of a partner with disabilities, as well as a person with disabilities herself.

Steve Dale from the The Dale Law Firm described the multiple ways to use ABLE accounts, and all the presenters answered enthusiastic questions from the audience.

Looking Forward

It was a full house that was bursting with insightful comments and questions. WID and CFPB are so grateful to those who attended because their presence and their voices will undoubtedly help shape the future path of ABLE.

WID hopes to offer another event and more resources about ABLE Accounts soon; in the meantime, WID’s EQUITY book is a great place to get more information about building assets for people with disabilities.

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